The Real Deal New York

Robert Mueller widens inquiry to include Trump business deals

Special prosecutor expands inquiry to include President Trump deals, Kushner deals and Manafort deals
July 20, 2017 01:35PM

From left: Jared Kushner, Robert Mueller, Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump and Trump Tower (Credit: Getty Images)

In an Wednesday interview with the New York Times, President Trump said that if special counsel Robert Muller started probing Trump’s personal business dealings in his ongoing investigation of Russian interference in last year’s presidential election, he would be crossing a red line.

Consider it crossed.

On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that Mueller has vastly expanded his investigation to include the business activities of Trump, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The special counsel and his team are examining Russian purchases of Trump properties, including at Trump Soho, where three condos sales were reportedly a part of Kazakh money laundering scheme.

FBI investigators are also asking questions about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and the 2008 sale of Trump’s Palm Beach estate to the Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev, a $95 million deal for a property Trump paid just $41 million for four years prior.

As for Kushner, Bloomberg reports that his attempts to secure real estate financing are under examination. That could include a meeting Kushner took with Sergey Gorkov, head of the Russian government-controlled Vnesheconombank, which House and Senate Intelligence investigators are reportedly looking at in connection to Kushner Company’s struggling trophy office tower at 666 Fifth Avenue. Jared’s firm has long sought investors for a multi-billion dollar overhaul of the building.

Additionally, Mueller’s team is taking a look at the Bank of Cyprus, where current Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross was a former vice chairman. A New York Times report Wednesday detailed that Manafort, who is being investigated in New York State for suspicious real estate loans he took from Chicago-based bank, has significant debts to Russians, a finding made through a review of Bank of Cyprus records.

The Times also reported that federal investigators in New York are examining hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate loans Deutsche Bank has extended to Trump over the years, looking to see if the outstanding agreements with the current president expose the bank to heightened levels of risk.

Next week, Manafort and Donald Trump, Jr. are expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about attempts by the Russian government to interfere in the U.S. presidential election.  [Bloomberg and New York Times] — Will Parker