Many people believe that the Russia probe is nearing its completion, but now The Daily Beast is reporting that Bob Mueller’s investigation might be moving to a whole new area of the world.
According to The Beast:
“Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office is preparing to reveal to the public a different side of his investigation. In court filings that are set to drop in early 2019, prosecutors will begin to unveil Middle Eastern countries’ attempts to influence American politics.”
Robert Mueller’s initial instructions were to conduct an investigation confined to:
“any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”
But the directions that Rod Rosenstein provided for the special counsel also notes that his authority includes “any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).” This is the law defining the jurisdiction of special counsels, which also includes instructions on how the special counsel can seek additional jurisdiction if the office that it “is necessary in order to fully investigate and resolve the matters assigned, or to investigate new matters that come to light in the course of his or her investigation.”
Mueller has requested an expansion of jurisdiction at least once. This was disclosed as part of the special counsel’s response to efforts by Paul Manafort to have charges against him dismissed on the ground that Mueller had exceeded his jurisdiction.
The response authorized Mueller to follow up on matters related to Manafort’s money laundering and his actions in Ukraine. So Mueller’s probe is not limited to just Russia’s influence in the 2016 presidential election.
Donald Trump and his family, especially Jared Kushner, have had strong financial ties to autocratic regimes in the Middle East for decades. They have borrowed money from them and had joint business dealings with them, and these continued even after Trump assumed the presidency.
If the details of these relationships come out, Mueller provide an explanation for why Trump has looked the other way whenever Saudi Arabia and his other Middle East partners commit some horrendous deed.
Donald Trump thinks that looking into his business dealings is “crossing a red line,” but those comments have generally been ignored by Mueller and federal prosecutors. It is widely known that they are looking at the financial records of the Trump Organization, for example. And in doing this it is likely that Mueller found money ties between Trump and Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries.
One member of Mueller’s team is Zainab Ahmad, a specialist in counterterrorism whose work has been focused on the Middle East and Africa. Ahmad signed off on the sentencing document for Michael Flynn last week, indicating some of Flynn’s misdeeds — and some of the evidence he provided prosecutors — involved Middle Eastern countries as well as Russia.
The Daily Beast said that Flynn was “involved in conversations with representatives and influential individuals from other foreign governments, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.”
It looks like Trump and Kushner are both compromised when it comes to setting foreign policy in the Middle East. Whether it’s with respect to American policies concerning Yemen, Qatar or Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, the decisions being made do not reflect what’s best for the United States. Rather, foreign policy decisions are being made on the basis of what is best for Donald Trump and his partners’ business interests.
If Mueller’s investigation is now going beyond just Russia, it means that it will probably continue for quite a while. Even if the probe is ongoing, of course, Mueller can continue to issue more indictments, and arrest people for their various crimes.
And when Mueller is finally finished, it is extremely likely that some of those indictments will deal with Donald Trump’s and Jared Kushner’s Middle East business dealings.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.