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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Mueller Looking At Tax Evasion In Old Business Transactions. The Probe Is All About "Getting Trump."

Mueller Expands Probe

 to Trump Business

 Transactions

 
  • Special counsel examines dealings of Kushner, Manafort, Trump
  • Trump has warned Mueller against going beyond Russia in probe
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Mueller Said to Probe Trump's Business Transactions
The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald
 Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad 
range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his
 associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.
The president told the New York Times on Wednesday that any digging into
 matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump’s businesses have 
involved Russians for years, making the boundaries fuzzy so Special Counsel
 Robert Mueller appears to be taking a wide-angle approach to his two-
month-old probe.
FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments
 in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo 
development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant 
in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch
 in 2008, the person said.
President Donald Trump, Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross and senior advisor Jared Kushner attend a meeting at the White House on Feb. 2, 2017.
Trump, Ross and Kushner attend a meeting at the White House on Feb. 2, 2017.
 
Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
John Dowd, one of Trump’s lawyers, 
said on Thursday he was unaware of 
this element of the investigation. "Those transactions are in my view well 
beyond the mandate of the Special counsel; are unrelated to the election 
of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia
 and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed 
by the United States Code," he wrote in an email.
Agents are also interested in dealings with the Bank of Cyprus, where 
Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman before he became commerce secretary. 
They are also examining the efforts of Jared Kushner, the President’s 
son-in-law and White House aide, to secure financing for some of his 
family’s real estate properties. The information was provided by someone 
familiar with the developing inquiry but not authorized to speak publicly.
The roots of Mueller’s follow-the-money investigation lie in a wide-ranging
 money laundering probe launched by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney 
Preet Bharara last year, according to the person.
FBI agents had already been gathering information about Trump’s former 
campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to two people with 
knowledge of that probe. Prosecutors hadn’t yet begun presenting 
evidence to a grand jury. Trump fired Bharara in March.
The Bharara probe was consolidated into Mueller’s inquiry, showing 
that the special counsel is taking an overarching approach to his 
mandated investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential
 election. Altogether, the various financial examinations constitute one
 thread of Mueller’s inquiry, which encompasses computer hacking and 
the dissemination of stolen campaign and voter information as well as 
the actions of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Joshua Stueve, Mueller’s spokesman, declined to comment, as did
 Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner and a Manafort spokesman.
Spokesmen for the White House, 
Trump Organization and Ross didn’t immediately respond to requests
 for comment.
Mueller’s team is looking at the Trump SoHo hotel condominium 
development, which was a licensing deal with Bayrock Capital LLC. In
 2010, the former finance director of Bayrock filed a lawsuit claiming 
the firm structured transactions in fraudulent ways to evade taxes. 
Bayrock was a key source of capital for Trump development projects, 
including Trump SoHo.
The 2013 Miss Universe pageant is of interest
 because a prominent Moscow developer,
 Aras Agalarov, paid $20 million to bring the
 beauty spectacle there. About a third of that 
sum went to Trump in the form of a licensing 
fee, according to Forbes magazine. At the event, Trump met Herman Gref, 
chief executive of Russia’s biggest bank, Sberbank PJSC. Agalarov’s son 
Emin helped broker a meeting last year between Trump’s son and a 
Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information about
 Hillary Clinton and her campaign.
Another significant financial transaction involved a Palm Beach, 
Florida estate that Trump purchased in 2004 for $41 million, after its 
previous owner lost it in bankruptcy. In March of 2008, after the real
 estate bubble had begun losing air, Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry 
Rybolovlev bought the property for $95 million.