Many Trump fans have accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller of turning the federal probe of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election into a “fishing expedition.” Trump supporters are upset the special prosecutor is now looking at their leader’s financial ties to foreign governments.
Former prosecutors say that probing possible financial connections and businesses in Russia is standard procedure in these types of probes. Those experts say that they would question Mueller’s integrity if he did not include those ties in the probe.
Former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter recently said that it would be impossible to find collusion without examining the possible relationship between the president, his aides, family members, and the Russian government or Russian businessmen.
Mueller’s investigation is focusing on the financial records of Trump’s businesses and the financial ties of Trump’s campaign aides and family. Mueller’s team includes several prosecutors with expertise in financial crimes like money laundering.
Strengthening the Probe
Trump once said that Mueller looking at his family’s financial ties would cross a line. Law experts think investigating the money trail is essential in getting to the bottom of Russia’s role in last year’s elections.
U.S. Attorney Nick Akerman, who was involved in the Watergate investigation, said that proving there was a collusion needs motive and access. Prosecutors must show evidence of why the crimes happened and who benefitted from them. Other investigations like those concerning organized crime were solved because the money trail proved crimes were committed.
Prof. Rebecca Lonergan of the Southern California Gould School of Law agrees that finances can help an investigation when other charges cannot be proven in court since they are based on the top-secret info, which would imperil national security if publicized.
While top secret evidence is inadmissible in court, financial records proving that foreign spies have been paid by other countries or organizations are allowed. It is often the tax records showing that taxes were not paid on these profits that prosecutors need to get a conviction.