Rep. Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, appeared on Meet the Press to discuss his well-publicized intent to investigate the relationship between trump and Deutsche Bank in conjunction with the House Financial Services Committee’s investigation of Deutsche Bank.
Chuck Todd was, well, Chuck Todd:
You seem to be the committee chairman that the president likes to talk about the most these days. And he had a two-part tweet that actually is a good way of unpacking everything you’re working on right now. Here’s what he tweeted. “So now Congressman Adam Schiff announces after having found zero Russian collusion that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so. Never happened before. Unlimited presidential harassment. The Dems and their committees are going nuts.” He puts that in quotes. “The Republicans never did this to President Obama. There would be no time left to run government. I hear other committee heads will do the same thing, even stealing people who work at White — at White House. A continuation of witch hunt.” All right. A lot to unpack. But explain the parameters of your investigation, where you’ve expanded. How far back into his finances do you plan to look?
Schiff’s reply began along the lines of what he’s said before, “The concern about Deutsche Bank is they have a history of laundering Russian money.” However, he then went somewhere unexpected and deeply alarming. After a question about potential conflict with the Mueller probe, Schiff expressed concern that the Special Counsel’s Office is having trump’s financial “red line” enforced on them by the “administration.”
I mean, we’re doing our best to de-conflict with him. But up until now, that’s been a non-issue because in the minority in the last two years, the Republicans would not do any investigation, wouldn’t do a credible investigation of the Russia links, certainly wouldn’t look into the president’s finances. So there was nothing to de-conflict as long as they were in charge. But the reason I am concerned about it, Chuck, is there has been reporting that when it was alleged that the special counsel had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, that the president moved to fire Mueller. And the way they talked him off the ledge was by promising that that reporting wasn’t true, that the special counsel hadn’t subpoenaed Deutsche Bank. Well, if the special counsel hasn’t subpoenaed Deutsche Bank*, he can’t be doing much of a money laundering investigation. So that’s what concerns me, that that red line has been enforced, whether by the deputy attorney general or by some other party at the Justice Department. But that leaves the country exposed. I find it, you know, just remarkable, Chuck, that the President of the United States as a candidate, as the presumptive nominee, could be pursuing business with the Kremlin and lying about it, and —
* WaPo has more on the source of Schiff’s premise that the Special Counsel’s Office hasn’t subpoenaed Deutsche Bank:
Schiff was referring to reports last year that Mueller’s office had told Trump’s lawyers it was not seeking Deutsche Bank records related to Trump’s accounts or loans. Deutsche Bank became a critical lender to Trump in the late 1990s when major U.S. banks refused to do business with the New York real estate developer after repeated bankruptcies.
Trump has described his finances as a “red line” Mueller should not cross, and he threatened to fire Mueller in late 2017 amid reports that the special counsel was seeking records from Deutsche Bank. Trump reportedly backed down after his lawyers obtained assurances from Mueller.
Schiff and Waters are staffing up. In November, the Intelligence Committee was seeking money-laundering and forensic accounting experts, and the Financial Services Committee just announced it’s “hiring a Senate lawyer with deep experience conducting complex investigations to help run its upcoming probe of Deutsche Bank AG”:
Bob Roach, who is expected to join the House committee’s staff under new Chairwoman Maxine Waters later this month, has spent more than two decades digging into dubious banking practices from his former perch with the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Few prominent Wall Street firms have been left untouched by his work.
Roach’s past investigations for the Senate panel constitute a rogues’ gallery of financial misconduct spanning several eras. They have focused on Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s “big short’’ against the housing market prior to the financial crisis; Credit Suisse Group AG’s efforts to help U.S. citizens evade taxes; HSBC Holdings Plc’s shoddy oversight of money laundering by drug cartels; and the roles played by Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. in helping Enron Corp. maintain a façade of profitability prior to its collapse.
The Financial Services committee plans to examine allegations that Deutsche Bank helped launder money on behalf of Russian customers and to probe the bank’s business dealings with President Donald Trump and his family. Trump has some $340 million in loans from the German lender, according to his most recent financial disclosures.
It’s frightening to think that the Special Counsel is being prevented from investigating trump’s financial crimes. It’s at least somewhat reassuring that Congressional investigations may reveal what Mueller can’t.
You can watch the Schiff interview below or read the transcript here.