Back in July, during an interview with The New York Times, President Trump was asked if Special Counsel Robert Mueller would be crossing a red line if he began looking into Trump’s business dealings, taxes, and deals his family members may have made. The president responded:
“I would say yes. I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”
This begs the question: Does Mueller have Trump’s tax returns? The answer: More than likely.
A member of one of the Congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election recently told Jeff Nesbit of U.S. News & World Report that “Mueller would be engaged in malpractice if he didn’t” already have Trump’s taxes.
Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, agrees, and sent out this tweet in August:
THREAD: Why I believe Mueller has already obtained tax returns in the Russia investigation, and how prosecutors obtain and use tax returns.
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) August 10, 2017
Mariotti followed up on that posting with an article he wrote for The Hill in which he explained how prosecutors gain access to tax returns:
“A federal prosecutor obtains tax returns by seeking an ex parte order from a federal judge. That means that the person who is being investigated doesn’t know that the tax returns are being sought or if the judge issues the order. Basically, it’s done in secret.”
Keep in mind that a federal judge issued a no-knock warrant for the raid on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home, so it seems likely that same or another judge would have had no problem approving of Mueller getting Trump’s taxes. That raid also tells us a great deal about the status of Mueller’s probe, according to Mariotti, and it indicates that Mueller knows exactly where to look and who to squeeze for information:
“A prosecutor would first take steps that can be done covertly, without the subject knowing, to gather evidence that can serve as the basis for more aggressive actions like search warrants. I worked with federal prosecutors who obtained tax returns in every single white-collar investigation they worked on.”
Another sign that Mueller is in possession of Trump’s taxes comes from a fact we learned in August: The Daily Beast reported that the IRS’ vaunted Criminal Investigation unit–which helped take down Al Capone–is now a part of the Russia probe. If there’s any financial irregularities, this group of meticulous pros will find it and make Mueller aware of it. As Betsy Woodruff of The Daily Beast wrote:
“This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney. And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.”
Trump, who is known to be a bit of an insomniac, may not get two hours of shut-eye a night knowing that Mueller is digging through his taxes.
Featured Image Via CBS News