Everybody knows that the reporting that Robert Mueller has issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank for its records regarding Donald Trump’s business dealings with the bank is a big deal, but nobody knows why. I sure as hell don’t, but just now, on Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC Stephanie Ruhle just laid out a scenario that makes perfect sense, and could be devastating for Trump.
Stephanie Ruhle knows of what she speaks, in full self disclosure she stated that she worked for Deutsche Bank for 8 years. She pointed out that after the Russian ruble collapse in 1998, most major banks flew the Russian coop, they wanted nothing more to do with the place. Deutsche Bank stayed, and played heavily. Stephanie also stated that the bank is less averse to taking a risk than some other major banks. Deutsche Bank has been and still is a major player in Russia, and does business with other Russian banks.
Here’s where Trump comes in. It has long been reported that Deutsche Bank is the largest bank holder of Trump debt. They continued to lend to him even after his numerous bankruptcies, when most other banks blacklisted him. It is estimated that the bank holds over $300 million in Trump debt, and they also hold significant debt notes from the Kushner family company. That’s a good size chunk of change in anybody’s book, but there’s nothing illegal about straight bank loans.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Banks buy, sell, and trade debt like some people swap baseball cards. If you’ve ever had a mortgage for a long period of time, it is quite possible you’ve received a letter from your bank, telling you that they have sold your mortgage, and you’ll be getting a letter from the new owner of your note, giving you a new account number and place to mail your payments. It happened to me twice in the 18 years I had my mortgage.
What Ruhle thinks that Mueller may be looking for is this. Trump has $300M in outstanding loans with Deutsche Bank. Deutsche bank regularly deals with Russian banks, including VEB, which is under EU and US sanctions. Did Deutsche Bank, for either nefarious or completely innocent reasons transfer anhy of Trump’s business debt over to any Russian bank, including banks currently under US sanctions? By itself, I don’t believe that this places Trump in violation of the sanctions, after all, he didn’t directly deal with the Russian bank, he got the money from Deutsche Bank, which then sold or traded the note to the Russian bank.
But it does place Trump in jeopardy on two fronts. The first, lesser one is this. Having a bank owned or controlled by a foreign government, in this case Russia holding paper on him could place him in violation of the emoluments clause of the US constitution. It is possible that he may be forced to liquidate any assets that the paper touches. But that’s the least of his worries. Much more importantlyk, if a Russian state owned bank holds a good chunk of Trump debt, he and or Jared Kushner are compromised. The Trump campaign would not have to offer the Russian government a quid pro quo for their assistance in the election, the Russians already have it. They could tell Trump, “We’ll get you in. Once we do, you either do as we say, or we’ll call in your notes, and maybe be just careless enough about it so that the press learns of it.” Not quite as sexy as a video on Wikileaks of him with a fishbowl over his head in a Moscow hotel room, but just as effective nonetheless.
If Stephanie Ruhle has figured this out, one might think that even if Trump doesn’t have anybody around him smart enough to figure it out, they’ll hear about that possibility in the media soon enough. If this is true, then you may now well have exactly the kind of survival instinct scenario where Trump feels he now has no choice but to get rid of Mueller, however he has to do it, and take his chances with the ensuing constitutional crisis in congress.
Granted, this is all speculation at this point, as Stephanie Ruhle stated when she described the scenario. But, with everything we already know, it does provide a totally plausible explanation for Trump’s indefensible fawning attitude towards Vladimir Putin and Russia. Don’t touch that dial.