Trump-Russia probe: Mueller ‘demands Deutsche Bank data’

Robert Mueller testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington DC, 19 June 2013Image copyright
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Mueller is investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and the 2016 election

US special counsel Robert Mueller has asked Germany’s Deutsche Bank to provide records of accounts held by Donald Trump, according to reports.

Mr Mueller issued a subpoena to the bank several weeks ago demanding data on transactions linked to the US president, Reuters news agency and a German newspaper say.

Deutsche Bank has previously rejected similar requests from Democrats.

Mr Mueller is investigating claims of collusion between Mr Trump and Russia.

US investigators are said to be demanding information on dealings linked to Mr Trump as part of an investigation into alleged Russian influence in the US presidential election, according to Handelsblatt and Reuters.

Deutsche Bank, which is one of the Trump Organisation’s major lenders on its real estate projects, said it would not comment on any of its clients.

Mueller paves way for possible showdown

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Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America Reporter

The revelation that Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Donald Trump’s Deutsche Bank financial records is an indication that his investigation is taking dead aim at the president.

Until now, Mr Mueller has operated on the periphery – focusing on former campaign chair Paul Manafort’s previous foreign lobbying efforts, the Russian contacts of George Papadopoulos, a relatively minor foreign policy advisor, and the post-election actions of Mr Trump’s confidant Michael Flynn.

While the charges are serious, the president himself has been removed from the most heated prosecutorial action.

That all changes if the Deutsche Bank reports are true. The German institution, which also has ties to Russian oligarchs, was a lifeline for the Trump Organisation’s businesses in the early 2000s, when US lenders turned their backs on the then-struggling business tycoon.

How closely did Mr Trump and his associates follow the letter of the law at a time before he was a serious political candidate?

The president’s defenders will argue that his past business dealings are not relevant to the special counsel inquiry, tasked with probing possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

A high-stakes showdown over whether Mr Mueller is exceeding his mandate could be brewing.

In June, the German bank rejected requests for account records by Democrats in the US House of Representatives to provide details of the president’s finances, citing privacy laws.

As special counsel Mr Mueller, who headed the FBI for more than a decade, has the powers to subpoena records and bring criminal charges.

He can also prosecute anyone who interferes in his investigation through crimes including perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence and intimidation of witnesses.

Mr Mueller’s office has so far spent about $3.2m (£2.4m) on attorneys, special agents and other expenses as part of its investigation, the US Department of Justice revealed in a report on Tuesday.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow tried to sway the presidential election in favour of Mr Trump.

It is alleged that Russian hackers stole information linked to the campaign of his rival Hillary Clinton and passed it to Wikileaks so it could be released to undermine her.

Mr Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia, calling the allegations a “witch hunt”.

Trump-Russia probe: Mueller ‘demands Deutsche Bank data’

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