Mueller Subpoenas Deutsche Bank

Shit’s getting real, fast. Mueller flipped Flynn and is now digging into Trump’s personal finances.

Russ Choma and Andy Kroll at Mother Jones:

Now it’s getting personal. On Tuesday, a German newspaper reported that Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia scandal, has issued a subpoena to Deutsche Bank, which Donald Trump owes hundreds of millions of dollars, making this financial behemoth Trump’s largest creditor. This summer, Trump said he considered his family’s personal finances a “red line” that Mueller should not cross. But by targeting Deutsche Bank with a subpoena for more information about Trump’s accounts, Mueller may well be crossing that line. More important perhaps, he is digging into a massive Trump conflict of interest and one of the biggest questions regarding Trump’s business empire: Why would this German bank lend him so much money when US banks wouldn’t?

I wouldn’t say Mueller “may well” be crossing that line; I’d say he definitely is. Deutsche Bank is not a “U.S.” bank, strictly speaking, but it does a lot of business in the U.S. and has a big headquarters in New York City. You know, where Trump used to live.

Deutsche Bank is important to Trump because U.S. banks won’t work with him. He’s a bad risk. If Deutsche Bank hadn’t extended a line of credit to him, he’d be washed up today. And today it’s said that Trump owes Deutsche Bank hundreds of millions of dollars. But the question is, why would Deutsche Bank lend him money? What’s in it for them?

Josh Marshall:

Why Deutsche Bank still works with Trump (they financed most of the DC Trump hotel project, for instance) is a basic question running through the Russia story. I’ve had a couple theories. One is simply this: that years ago Trump realized that he couldn’t be shut out by every major bank. He needed at least one major lender who would still do business with him and thus made sure not to cheat or gouge them as actively as he did the others. (This wasn’t terribly credible since he got in a legal tangle with DB a few years ago demanding that he be released from his debt to the bank and be reimbursed because of the banks role in the 2008 financial crisis. Yes, he sued saying he should be released from repaying a loan.) The other possibility is that there was some extra-economic factor that kept them lending.

Along those lines many have pointed out that lots of Russian money goes through Deutsche Bank and indeed the bank has been repeatedly fined for Russian money laundering. The Deutsche Bank subpoena is certainly about probing the President’s financial ties to Russia, which are as we know extensive.

A hypothesis that explains all of the known facts: Trump is personally in debt to Russians up to his comb-over. Putin could ruin him politically and financially just by giving the word, which means Trump as POTUS must tread carefully to not overly piss off Putin. And of course his power over Trump gave Putin incentive to try to manipulate the election in Trump’s favor.

We may learn eventually that something else is going on, but so far that’s where it all seems to be pointing. Even if my hypothesis is proved wrong, it’s a safe bet that Trump’s finances, including his taxes, won’t stand up to legal scrutiny.

Also, in other news: Now Southern California is on fire.