Who’s Looking at What in the Investigations of Trump

(Bloomberg) -- What started with an investigation into Russia’s interest in U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign has drawn closer to home. Authorities at the federal and state levels, and newly empowered Democrats in the House of Representatives, are scrutinizing Trump’s private business dealings, his path to the pinnacle of American politics and his actions as president. This is in addition to the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into interference by Russians into the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump or his campaign conspired with them. Here’s a partial accounting of what else is being investigated, and by whom:

2016 campaign finances

WHO’S LOOKING: U.S. prosecutors in New York
WHAT THEY’RE INVESTIGATING: Potential campaign finance violations
WHAT’S KNOWN: Trump has been implicated -- though not charged -- in the payment of hush money amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars to two women before the 2016 election. His longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign-finance violations, saying Trump directed him to arrange the payments and later reimbursed him for some of them. (In the context of a political campaign, money spent to silence unflattering information can be considered a campaign donation; as of 2016, individuals were limited to giving no more than $2,700 to a given candidate, and for it to be reported.) The two women, adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford (also known as Stormy Daniels) and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, say they had sexual liaisons with Trump years ago.


Trump Organization finances

WHO’S LOOKING: New York state tax authorities; New York attorney general; possibly U.S. prosecutors in New York
WHAT THEY’RE INVESTIGATING: Potential tax evasion, fraud
WHAT’S KNOWN: New York authorities opened an investigation after the New York Times reported that Trump and his family built their real estate empire through “instances of outright fraud,” evading taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars. The state’s Department of Financial Services issued a subpoena to the Trump Organization’s primary insurance broker, Aon Plc, after Cohen told Congress that Trump’s company sometimes misrepresented the value of its assets to insurance companies. Also based on Cohen’s testimony, the New York attorney general’s office issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank AG and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of Trump Organization projects and an unsuccessful effort to buy the Buffalo Bills football team, the Times reported. Federal prosecutors in New York granted limited immunity to Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, to provide information about how Cohen was reimbursed for the payment to Clifford.


Trump Tower Moscow

WHO’S LOOKING: House Democrats
WHAT THEY’RE INVESTIGATING: Potentially misleading public statements about the Trump Organization’s business dealings in Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign
WHAT’S KNOWN: Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts, ultimately unsuccessful, to build a Trump Tower skyscraper in Russia. Cohen initially told the Senate that the project was scrapped in January 2016; actually, negotiations had continued for months afterward, as Trump was seeking the presidency. Cohen said he misled lawmakers to be consistent with Trump’s repeated disavowals during the campaign of any Russian business ties.


Trump inaugural committee

WHO’S LOOKING: U.S. prosecutors in New York; attorneys general of New Jersey and District of Columbia; House Democrats
WHAT THEY’RE INVESTIGATING: The committee’s fundraising, spending and relationships with donors, including whether foreign money was accepted and service providers were asked to accept off-the-books payments directly from financial donors
WHAT’S KNOWN: A committee of Trump allies led by Tom Barrack, head of investment firm Colony Capital Inc., reported raising a record $107 million for the swearing-in festivities. In February, federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed the committee for documents related to inaugural donors, vendors, contractors, bank accounts and any information related to foreign contributors, the Washington Post reported. Barrack’s deputy on the inaugural committee was Rick Gates, who has admitted to crimes and is helping Mueller’s prosecutors examine Russian interference in the 2016 election. 


Donald J. Trump Foundation

WHO’S LOOKING: New York attorney general; New York Department of Taxation and Finance; possibly U.S. Internal Revenue Service
WHAT THEY’RE INVESTIGATING: New York Attorney General Letitia James contends in an ongoing lawsuit that Trump and three of his children -- Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric -- allowed the charitable foundation to be used to settle personal debts, benefit the business and boost Trump’s presidential campaign in violation of the state tax code. The attorney general’s findings have been referred to the IRS for further investigation. 
WHAT’S KNOWN: The foundation agreed to shut down in December and give away its remaining assets. An attorney for the foundation defended its record, saying it distributed approximately $19 million to 700 charitable organizations over the past decade.


Obstruction of justice

WHO’S LOOKING: House Democrats
WHAT THEY’RE INVESTIGATING: Whether Trump has intentionally interfered with any of the investigations
WHAT’S KNOWN: Mueller, who is also thought to have been interested in obstruction of justice, has asked witnesses about Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director in May 2017. Comey claimed that Trump asked him earlier to go easy in his investigation of Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Allegations of obstruction of justice played a central part in the articles of impeachment drawn up against Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon.

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