A top Democrat said on Friday that the House Intelligence Committee will soon open an in-depth investigation into the finances of President Donald Trump. This committee probe will involve a detailed look into the long history of alleged criminal money laundering activities which may have provided a substantial part of the president’s fortune and real estate empire.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a member of both the House intelligence and judiciary committees, and a former prosecutor expressed his belief that there is already “probable cause” to believe Trump’s business was involved in illegal money laundering activities dating back to the early 2000s. The evidence points to the president having worked with individuals representing Russian oligarchs and Russian organized crime figures closely aligned with Vladimir Putin.
“To use a prosecutor’s phrase, I think we have probable cause to do that, based on the Trump family’s own admissions that they had money coming in from Russia,” he added.
These comments give insight into how Democrats on the intelligence committee, chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff of California, plan to restart the Russia investigation that was cut off by Republican leaders last year.
Swalwell said he has previously discussed these matters with Schiff and he is confident about the direction the committee will go with their probe into Trump’s relationships with Russia.
Many people believe that Trump’s financial dealings with Putin and other Russians have provided them ammunition to blackmail the U.S. president and influence America’s foreign policies.
Swalwell said the committee will start with letters to the Trump Organization and Deutsche Bank, a major lender to Trump, asking them to voluntarily turn over records. After that they will move to subpoenas if the letters do not get the desired results.
Swalwell also admitted that the probe could be a prolonged one marked by White House resistance and even litigation over the subpoenas, saying:
“As far as how many years back does it go, we know that you have evidence in the early 2000s of … Trump properties being purchased by Russians, so the Trump interest in Russia and the Russia interest in Trump does go back decades. From my perspective, I would want to know where did the financial compromise begin.”
“You’re talking about years of records, years of relationships that the Trump family has had.”
“I think we want to have a comprehensive picture of whether or not the president is financially compromised by the Russians.”
Swalwell said that the probe into Trump’s finances will not be limited to the president’s Russia dealings. They will also investigate the Trump Organization’s ties to Saudi Arabia which booked “hundreds” of hotel rooms at the new Trump Hotel in Washington after the president’s election.
As to whether the committee would investigate Trump’s relationship with the Saudis, Swalwell said: “What I would like to know is, again — and you could see this through his tax returns, you could see this through bank records — whether there is an ongoing relationship financially with the Saudis.”
In support of Swalwell’s statements, a spokesperson for Schiff pointed to remarks he recently made to the New Yorker magazine where he said:
“The American people have a right to know that their President is working on their behalf, not his family’s financial interests. Right now, I don’t think any of us can have the confidence that that’s the case.”
During the Yahoo interview Swalwell said he was considering running for president in 2020.
“I think I can make a difference, but I also think I can win. Most importantly, I want to see our country come together,” Swalwell said when asked about his 2020 chances.
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.