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Mueller and other probes posing risk for Trump

A special counsel investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump has already secured more than 30 indictments and guilty pleas and has spawned at least four federal probes.

But that is not all that Trump needs to worry about. With less than three weeks to go before they take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats are jockeying to lead overlapping investigations into the president.

Trump denies any collusion and has long denounced the investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a “witch hunt.” Moscow has denied it interfered in the election.

Here are the various agencies or groups whose investigations pose a risk for Trump or are offshoots of Mueller’s probe.

SPECIAL COUNSEL ROBERT MUELLER

Mueller was given a mandate to investigate any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Since his start in May 2017, Mueller has secured indictments against or guilty pleas from 32 people and three Russian companies, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and a troll farm in St. Petersburg, Russia that spread disinformation on social media ahead of the 2016 election.

While Trump is unlikely to be charged by Mueller due to Justice Department policy against indicting a sitting president, a report from Mueller expected sometime in 2019 could prove damaging politically. The report is expected to focus on any collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice.

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

On a referral from Mueller, prosecutors in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) secured search warrants to raid the office and residence of Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, in April.

Cohen pleaded guilty in August to crimes including campaign finance violations, which he said he carried out at the direction of Trump to silence two women about alleged sexual affairs.

Cohen separately pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about a planned Trump skyscraper in Moscow in a case handled by Mueller.

He has been cooperating with Mueller and in a more limited capacity with the SDNY. He says he is willing to cooperate more, which could lead SDNY prosecutors into the finances of the Trump Organization, legal experts say.

Prosecutors have already granted immunity to Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s longtime CFO.

The SDNY is also in the early stages of an investigation into whether Trump’s inaugural committee misspent some of the $107 million it raised, according to the Wall Street Journal.

NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL

The New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Trump’s personal charity alleging he unlawfully used it to help his campaign and benefit his business. The suit, which is ongoing, seeks to recover $2.8 million in funds.

Incoming attorney general Letitia James told NBC News in an interview this month that she planned to launch sweeping investigations into Trump and “anyone” in his inner circle who may have broken the law.

James could get help from Cohen, who met voluntarily with the Attorney General’s office concerning the lawsuit and also provided the office “documents concerning a separate open inquiry,” according to a sentencing memo in his case.

EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA

Federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia are handling two cases spawned out of the Mueller probe: the indictment of an accountant for a Russian troll farm who allegedly meddled in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and the indictment of Flynn’s former business partner and a Turkish businessman for unregistered lobbying aimed at extraditing a Muslim cleric to Turkey.

Mueller and Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) prosecutors are jointly prosecuting a case involving Russian oligarch Evgeny Prigozhin and two of his companies, which stand accused of spreading misinformation ahead of the 2016 election.

EDVA is also the jurisdiction where an indictment against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was mistakenly unsealed last month. It was unclear what any possible charges against Assange could be, though in 2016 Wikileaks published Democratic emails that U.S. intelligence agencies say were hacked by Russia.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Sam Patten pleaded guilty in August to unregistered lobbying for a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine and admitted to arranging for a U.S. citizen to act as a straw purchaser to buy tickets to Trump’s inauguration for a Ukrainian oligarch.

The case against Patten was brought by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s National Security Division, which started investigating him after a referral from Mueller.

Patten, the business partner of a Russian national indicted by Mueller for conspiring to obstruct justice in the Manafort case, is cooperating with Mueller and could be providing information related to the inaugural committee probe.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The House of Representatives is expected to engage in a wide range of investigations into Trump’s businesses and conduct. The probes will cut across six committees with some under the jurisdiction of two or more, sources told Reuters.

The main areas of investigation include Trump’s tax returns and business properties; any collusion with Russia; any violations of a constitutional clause that forbids the accepting of gifts from foreign governments; and allegations that he broke campaign finance laws as detailed in the Cohen case.

The Intelligence Committee’s incoming chairman, Adam Schiff, has pointed to the need to look into accusations Russians may have laundered funds through the Trump Organization.

SENATE

The Senate Intelligence Committee, contrary to its House counterpart, has maintained a bipartisan stance to its probe into Russia’s interference into the 2016 election, including any connection to the Trump campaign. That probe is ongoing.

EMOLUMENTS LAWSUIT

This month the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia formally demanded financial records from Trump’s businesses, marking progress in their lawsuit alleging that Trump’s dealings with governments violate the Constitution’s so-called emoluments clauses.

(Reuters)

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