07 December 2017

Deutsche Bank

On Monday, both Bloomberg and Reuters broke the story that Robert Mueller, who's leading the criminal investigation into Donald Trump and his circle, have subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records for the President and his family (links here and here).

Later that day, one of Trump's lawyers and also a White House spokesperson said this was untrue.

On Tuesday, however, The Wall Street Journal, a conservative, pro-Republican newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, said that the White House and lawyer were wrong and that Bloomberg and Reuters were correct -- subpoenaes were issued to the bank for Trump and family's records (link here).

So who to believe? Let's step through the players one by one.

The White House spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has been documented telling boldfaced lies quite a few times before.

Lawyers for Trump have been documented telling boldfaced lies quite a few times before, too. In addition, lawyers have ways to parse the truth to make it sound like they're saying one thing when they're really saying another.

For instance, perhaps the subpoenaes were issued for Trump family trusts or wholely-owned corporations. Technically, perhaps Trump himself wasn't named on the subpoenaes, but they were for his accounts and assets.

As well, there's really no way for Trump's lawyers and press people to know if the bank has received subpoenaes. Financial institutions usually do not publicly reveal to any party if they've received them. As well, Deutsche Bank is a German concern, and Germany has very strict privacy laws. Further, the subpoenas may have been issued sub rosa, meaning the recipient cannot discuss or even confirm their existence.

And then there's the three media sources, who have all independently confirmed this story is true, the denials notwithstanding. When one side has two confirmed liars claiming something while the other side has three multi-award winning and highly respected media outlets saying something, whom to believe here is not difficult.

The Journal piece quotes a former criminal division head at the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office as saying about the subpoenaes: "Either it means they’re going beyond the narrow question of election interference. Or, it means the question of election interference may now somehow involve the transfer of funds to the President or his family or inner circle."

Either way, it's very bad news for Trump. If they're looking at Trump's real estate transactions, then this investigation could be digging into suspected money laundering, potentially the area where he faces the biggest legal and financial peril, or corruption or funding terrorist organizations. Or all of them.

If financial transactions are connected to the election, that could uncover a criminal conspiracy with Trump or someone in his family paying for something illegal, like financing the hackers who stole Democrats' private emails.

What every the answer, this could soon get very weird and also very interesting. Stay tuned.

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