As it turns out, President Trump’s legal team was telling the truth when it said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller hadn’t subpoenaed financial records related to the president’s business activities from German lender Deutsche Bank, contrary to Bloomberg reporting.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that Deutsche Bank had received a subpoena for records on accounts linked to the Kushner Companies, the family real-estate empire of Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. This contradicts reports by both German and US media organizations dating back to July which insinuated that Mueller had been digging into Trump’s multi-decade career in real estate. Even after his infamous bankruptcies in the 1990s, Trump managed to maintain a functioning lending relationship with Deutsche, which has lent him and his businesses hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.
Unsurprisingly, these stories also got a few other key details wrong. The subpoena in question was sent by the Eastern District of New York, not special counsel Robert Mueller and his team. However, it’s notable that three prosecutors from Mueller’s team once worked for the Eastern District – which could’ve been one reason for the mix up.
Mr. Kushner, who was the Kushner Companies’ chief executive until January, still owns part of the business after selling some of his stake. The family businesses include many legal entities. It is not clear which records were sought by prosecutors, what they are seeking to learn from them or to what degree, if any, they directly involve Mr. Kushner.
There is no indication that the subpoena is related to the investigation being conducted by Robert S Mueller III, the special counsel, into Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election. Three prosecutors on Mr. Mueller’s team previously worked at the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn, one as recently as this year. Federal prosecutors around the country typically check with Justice Department headquarters when their investigations may overlap.
The justification for the Kushner Company subpoena is for now unclear. While it had been publicly reported that the Eastern District was investigating the Kushner Company’s use of the EB-5 visa program – which essentially rewards wealth foreign investors for investing in the US – Deutsche Bank wasn’t involved in any of the projects where Kushner Company partners had received EB-5 visas.
The Brooklyn United States attorney has been investigating the Kushner businesses’ use of a program known as EB-5. It offers visas to overseas investors in exchange for $500,00 investments in real estate projects. But Deutsche Bank does not appear to have been involved in Kushner real estate projects financed through the EB-5 program. That suggests the prosecutors’ subpoena may be unrelated to the visa program.
Trump’s lawyers confirmed that Mueller hasn’t subpoenaed any Deutsche Bank records related to Trump, his business or his children.
Deutsche Bank is also a big lender to Mr. Trump’s companies, though Mr. Mueller has not subpoenaed the bank for information about those accounts, according to people familiar with subpoenas that Deutsche Bank has received.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have said publicly that they have been assured that Mr. Mueller has not subpoenaed bank records related to him or his family. People close to Mr. Kushner, who declined to be named, said they do not think he is in jeopardy from Nr. Mueller’s investigation.
The Kushner Companies received requests for information pertaining to two New Jersey developments from the Eastern District before Deutsche had received the subpoena, according to the Times.
Given the deluge of premeditated leaks pertaining to the Mueller probe meant to shake out the president's inner circle, it’s perhaps not surprising that reporters have gotten a few things wrong. It may be worth keeping this in mind the next time the WaPo/NYT (ex Glenn Thrush going forward)/CNN circle of friends publish an anonymously sourced story about nefarious activities related to the top KGB agent, one Donald Trump.