Mueller reportedly issues subpoena to Trump Organization demanding documents relating to Russia

The exact scope of the subpoena is unknown at this time, but Mr Mueller requested documents related to Russia 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 15 March 2018 19:19 GMT
President Donald Trump's businesses were served with a subpoena by special counsel Robert Mueller in the ongoing Russia probe on 15 March 2018.
President Donald Trump's businesses were served with a subpoena by special counsel Robert Mueller in the ongoing Russia probe on 15 March 2018. (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization in the ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between members of President Donald Trump's 2016 US election campaign team and Russian officials.

This is the first publicly known time the investigation has been taken directly to Mr Trump's business, the New York Times reported.

The White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "There was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. For specific questions about the Trump Organization I would refer you to them". The administration and Mr Trump have repeatedly denied any allegations of wrongdoing in the matter.

It is unknown what the exact scope of the subpoena is and why Mr Mueller issued it in the first place, implying that the umbrella organisation that oversees many of Mr Trump's businesses may not have cooperated with a request for the documents. The Trump Organization has cooperated in the past with the House and Senate intelligence committee investigator's when they have requested documents in the past.

Sources close to the matter told the paper, however, that the subpoena was delivered in "recent weeks" and did ask for documents related to Russia. A source told CNN that the reason for the subpoena was to "clean up" and "to ensure that all related documents are handed over to the special counsel," the outlet reported.

An attorney for the Trump Organization Alan Futerfas said in a statement that the subpoena is "old news and our assistance and cooperation with the various investigations remains the same today."

Sam Nunberg on why he is ignoring an apparent subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller

The newspaper had reported that the subpoena could relate to documents to a time period prior to Mr Trump's 2015 announcement that he would be running for President. The documents the company provided to investigators thus far have reportedly related to the time period since the announcement.

News about the order comes as Mr Mueller appears to be expanding the investigation beyond alleged collusion between Trump campaign team members and Russian officials to include what role, if any, foreign money could have played in the election and Mr Trump's campaign.

Mr Mueller has questioned an adviser from the United Arab Emirates called George Nader who has ties to aides of Mr Trump in the last few weeks.

Recent witnesses have reported they were asked about possible real estate dealings by the company in Moscow, which could have prompted the subpoena as the company has said there were no property deals made in the country.

As the New York Times reported also: "a longtime business associate of Mr Trump’s emailed Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen" in 2015 "at his Trump Organization account claiming he had ties to" Russian President Vladimir Putin and "said that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would help Mr Trump’s presidential campaign".

It was never built but Mr Trump had signed a nonbinding letter of intent.

The subpoena news also comes on the heels of a new set of US sanctions on 19 Russian nationals for alleged election meddling. The list includes Mr Putin's personal chef and the 13 individuals indicted last month by Mr Mueller for “conspiracy to defraud the US".

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement that the individual financial assets sanctions were proof "the administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in US elections, destructive cyber attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure".

Mr Trump also came out against Russia for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, who remain in critical condition after being exposed to a "military-grade" nerve toxin. The incident also prompted Prime Minister Theresa May to cut off high-level contact with Moscow and expel 23 Russian diplomats from the UK.

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