Speed Reads

the investigation continues

Robert Mueller said to be focusing Russia probe on Trump's financial ties

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is delving into President Trump's finances in connection with his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, CNN reports. Individuals familiar with Mueller's probe told CNN that investigators have "seized on Trump and his associates' financial ties to Russia as one of the most fertile avenues for moving their probe forward."

Mueller is tasked with investigating whether Trump or his campaign associates colluded with Russia in its attempts to interfere with the election. Mueller's team apparently believes the money trail "could offer a more concrete path toward potential prosecution than the broader and murkier questions of collusion." His investigation — which absorbed one already underway by federal prosecutors involving former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — is wide-ranging, and "even investigative leads that have nothing to do with Russia but involve Trump associates are being referred to the special counsel," CNN reports.

In addition to Flynn, investigators have encountered communications that appear to show Russian operatives discussing Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in connection with efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton in last year's race.

The financial probing has involved Trump Organization records, as well as those of Trump and his family members personally; individuals connected to the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, which Trump held in Moscow; and tenants and buyers of Trump-branded real estate properties. It's not clear whether tax returns are being reviewed.

Jay Sekulow, the president's attorney, told CNN that the president's outside counsel "has not received any requests for documentation or information" about the increased financial scrutiny. "Any inquiry from the special counsel that goes beyond the mandate specified in the appointment, we would object to." Trump told The New York Times last month that he would consider any probing of his finances by Mueller a "violation."

Earlier Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mueller had impaneled a grand jury in Washington, D.C., in connection with the Russia probe, while Reuters reported that grand jury subpoenas had been issued regarding Donald Trump Jr.'s June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer, which the president's son has said he accepted because he was promised damaging information on Clinton.