First, he impaneled a grand jury. Then the grand jury began issuing subpoenas. Now, investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller have issued an official request for White House documents pertaining to the Russia investigation. Specifically, they’re looking for things related to Michael Flynn, Russia, and Turkey. The requests aren’t subpoenas, but they could become subpoenas if the White House refuses to hand them over.
Investigators are interested in payments that Flynn received for speeches given to Russian companies. Flynn’s financial disclosure forms initially didn’t include the payments from the Russian companies, and he had to file an amended version with those payments later on.
Gee, it almost looks like he tried to hide his contacts with anyone Russian, just like Jared Kushner and Jeff Sessions.
But Mueller’s team is also looking into Trump’s own financial ties with Russia, and other possible financial crimes on Trump’s part, too. Trump tried to intimidate Mueller on that front, warning him not to go that far and to keep the investigation’s focus on Russian collusion. Mueller has, more or less, told Trump to go screw himself. Trump’s outside counsel says that they’ll resist anything from Mueller’s office that goes beyond the “mandate specified in the appointment.”
Oh, please. That positively reeks of fear. It’s also further evidence that the Trump administration doesn’t believe that the Department of Justice—or any agency within it—should be independent of the White House.
The FBI is also interested in a $530,000 payment made to the Flynn Intel Group for work on discrediting an opponent of the Turkish government. They’re looking to see if the Turkish government was behind those payments, or if it really was a private deal between Flynn’s company and a Turkish American businessman. They’ve begun questioning people on this very thing, too.
It’s not illegal to be paid by foreign governments. It is illegal to fail to register as a foreign agent while taking those payments. Flynn’s registration as a foreign agent only happened after his company’s work with Turkey was revealed.
The fear is there and it’s real. Mueller has cast a very wide net and it’s beginning to catch some fish. Trump’s 17-day vacation has a dark cloud over it, as does the White House.
Featured image via Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images