A fact of Washington life that ought to be a maxim, but isn’t: not every important moment gets a headline. One such moment was a largely overlooked exchange in May between Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, and [former Director James] Comey, who still held his job at the FBI.
“It’s not uncommon to seek and use tax returns in a criminal investigation?” asked the Senator, himself a former prosecutor, who was well aware of the answer.
“Not uncommon,” Comey replied on cue. “Especially in complex financial cases, it’s a relatively common tool.”
Whitehouse went on to ask about Russian strategies for compromising U.S. business partners by giving them highly favorable deals and to explore the use of shell corporations in laundering dirty money through untraceable transactions with American companies. “And that’s not a good thing?” Whitehouse asked in conclusion.
Comey: “I don’t think it is.”
Investigations like Mueller’s have a way of moving from Topic A to Topic Z, from Ozarks real estate to an intern’s blue dress as one question begets another and clue leads to clue. The Senator’s questions and Comey’s answers mapped several paths by which an investigation of Trump’s actions as President -- Was he trying to obstruct justice? -- could become a dissection of the inner workings of his private business. The tax returns he has steadfastly refused to publish. The conflicting accounts he and his sons have given about Russian investments in Trump projects. The sharp rise in the number of Trump branded luxury condos bought by [Russian] shell corporations since his nomination...
Members of Congress do this all the time during Congressional hearings. They send little coded messages like this to anyone who's paying attention.
The quoted exchange strongly suggests the FBI was already investigating Trump's businesses before the President fired former FBI Director James Comey. Any such investigation almost certainly was picked up and continued by Mueller.
Given that Trump said in a NBC television interview that he fired Comey because of "this Russia thing," a statement now memorialized forever on video, the obstruction of justice circle could well have been completed but for a different reason than much of the public may be suspecting.
That could mean Trump fired Comey not because of allegations that the President's campaign colluded with Russia but because the feds were looking too closely at Trump's shady business dealings.
Trump could be brought down by something that has utterly nothing to do with being President or running for office. He could be neutered by the fact that, for years, he has been running a massive money laundering operation for Russian mobsters (details here).