I can kind of see why Republicans want Mueller shut down. His outreach, like that of an octopus, is pretty far. As I wrote back in February, there are some lingering question about where the money went for Trump’s very expensive but poorly attended inauguration. Now The Hill is breaking a story that Mueller is looking into donations to that event:
Federal investigators are reportedly looking into donations to President Trump‘s inauguration from donors with links to foreign entities.
Sources told ABC News that special counsel Robert Mueller‘s team has questioned several inauguration donors with personal or business connections to Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Mueller’s team has also interviewed longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack, who oversaw the inauguration fundraising efforts. More than $107 million was raised for the inaugural, doubling the previous record set by President Obama.
File under Uh-oh.
Some of these connections with foreign agents, particularly Russians, seems to harken back to pre-election days. NPR:
The FBI warned four years ago that a foundation controlled by the Russian oligarch who allegedly reimbursed Donald Trump’s personal lawyer might have been acting on behalf of Russia’s intelligence services.
FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote an unusual column in the Boston Business Journal in April of 2014 to warn that a foundation controlled by Russian energy baron Viktor Vekselberg might be part of a Moscow spying campaign that sought to siphon up American science and technology.
“The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial applications,” Ziobro wrote. “This analysis is supported by reports coming out of Russia itself.”
Fast forward to this week: Vekselberg’s name has been in U.S. headlines because of allegations about his involvement with payments to Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen.
A lawyer suing Trump and Cohen, Michael Avenatti, released a document on Tuesday charging that Vekselberg might have reimbursed Cohen for the payment he made to Avenatti’s client, porn actress Stormy Daniels. Avenatti’s document has not been fully verified but important aspects of it have been confirmed.
Andrey Shtorkh, a spokesman for Vekselberg, did not respond to a request for comment. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.
The U.S. subsidiary of the company that Vekselberg controls has acknowledged making payments to Cohen, but it denied that it served as a pass-through for Vekselberg or anyone else outside the United States trying to funnel money to him.
FBI investigators reportedly stopped Vekselberg on his way into the United States earlier this year to question him. The 2014 column written by Ziobro suggests that Vekselberg has been of interest to U.S. intelligence officials for some time — well before the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election.
And finally, although technically not an investigation, Stormy Daniel’s lawyer has been bringing the heat with documents and emails, all of which have been verified. And today he tweets:
Let this serve as formal notice – there is significantly more evidence and facts to come relating to Mr. Cohen’s dealings and Mr. Trump’s knowledge and involvement. You can come clean now or wait to be outed. Your choice. We have only just begun…#Basta
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 11, 2018