Trump targeted: A look at the investigations involving the former president; from Russia to Mar-a-Lago

Trump targeted: A look at the investigations involving the former president; from Russia to Mar-a-Lago

Posted For: Willie Wonka

By Brooke Singman

Former President Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment rights in a deposition as part of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation into his family’s business practices—just days after the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago home in connection with an investigation into classified records he allegedly took with him when he left the White House—but investigations are nothing new for Donald Trump.

Trump’s presidency was clouded by investigations—several into whether he colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, some focused on his finances and others that led to impeachment, making him the first president in United States history to have been impeached twice.

Trump’s post-presidential life is reminiscent of his days in the Oval Office, marred by probes, which the former president and his allies say are all just part of an effort by his political opponents to prevent him from running for re-election in 2024.

This week alone, Trump, again, found himself in the line of fire.

FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago

Early Monday morning, the FBI, in an unprecedented move, raided Trump’s private residence at Mar-a-Lago in connection with an investigation into classified records the former president allegedly took with him from the White House.

Sources told Fox News that FBI agents would not allow Trump’s attorneys to watch as they raided the former president’s private residence. One source said FBI agents took boxes and documents without reviewing them on the property—only to investigate them later.

The raid was related to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which said earlier this year that Trump took 15 boxes of presidential records to his personal residence in Florida. Those boxes allegedly contained “classified national security information,” and official correspondence between Trump and foreign heads of state.

The NARA notified Congress in February that the agency recovered the 15 boxes from Mar-a-Lago and “identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes.” The matter was referred to the Justice Department by NARA.

Trump, earlier this year, said the National Archives did not “find” the documents, but that they were “given, upon request.” Sources close to the former president said he had been cooperating and there was “no need” for the raid.

Classified material that was reportedly confiscated by the FBI during the raid Monday included a letter to Trump from former President Obama, a letter from Kim Jong Un, a birthday dinner menu and a cocktail napkin.

Trump’s tax returns probe

Then, on Tuesday, a federal appeals court paved the way for the House Ways and Means Committee to finally obtain Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service—something the panel has been trying to obtain since 2019, under a law that permits the disclosure of an individual’s tax returns to the congressional committee.

Trump may seek emergency intervention measures from the Supreme Court in an attempt to temporarily block any release of these tax records.

Civil investigation into Trump Organization

On Wednesday, Trump appeared in downtown New York City for his deposition before New York Attorney General Letitia James. James’ office has been conducting a civil investigation into the Trump Organization to find out whether Trump and his company improperly inflated the value of assets on financial statements in order to obtain loans and tax benefits.

“I did nothing wrong, which is why, after five years of looking, the Federal, State and local governments, together with the Fake News Media, have found nothing,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday morning.

“The United States Constitution exists for this very purpose, and I will utilize it to the fullest extent to defend myself against this malicious attack by this administration, this Attorney General’s Office, and all other attacks on my family, my business, and our Country.”

“I once asked, ‘If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?’ Now I know the answer to that question,” he continued. “When your family, your company, and all the people in your orbit have become the targets of an unfounded, politically motivated Witch Hunt supported by lawyers, prosecutors, and the Fake News Media, you have no choice.”

“If there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI, just two days prior to this deposition, wiped out any uncertainty,” Trump said. “I have absolutely no choice because the current Administration and many prosecutors in this Country have lost all moral and ethical bounds of decency.”

Trump added: “Accordingly, under the advice of my counsel and for all of the above reasons, I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution.”

A spokesperson for the New York State Attorney General’s Office confirmed that the office conducted Trump’s deposition.

“Attorney General Letitia James took part in the deposition during which Mr. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” the spokesperson said. “Attorney General James will pursue the facts and the law wherever they may lead.”

The spokesperson added: “Our investigation continues.”

However, Trump’s Republican allies are seeing a pattern, and encouraging him to continue to fight back.

“Before he’s in the White House, they go after him. While he’s in the White House, they go after him, and they’re continuing to do so now that he’s left,” the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Fox News. “It actually started before he was even president.”

FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane probe

When Trump took office in January 2017, the FBI was in the middle of conducting a counterintelligence investigation into whether candidate Donald Trump and members of his campaign were colluding or coordinating with Russia to influence the 2016 election. That investigation was referred to inside the bureau as “Crossfire Hurricane,” and began on July 31, 2016.

That investigation was opened, despite then-CIA Director John Brennan briefing then-President Obama on July 28, 2016 about a purported proposal from one of Hillary Clinton’s campaign foreign policy advisers “to vilify Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security service.”

In September 2016, the CIA properly forwarded that information through a Counterintelligence Operational Lead (CIOL) to then-FBI Director James Comey and then-Deputy Assistant Director of Counterintelligence Peter Strzok, with the subject line: “Crossfire Hurricane.”

Fox News first obtained and reported on the CIOL, which stated: “The following information is provided for the exclusive use of your bureau for background investigative action or lead purposes as appropriate.

“An exchange [REDACTED] discussing US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s approval of a plan concerning US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Russian hackers hampering US elections as a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server,” the referral states.

It is unclear how the FBI handled that memo.

Special Counsel John Durham is currently investigating the origins of the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.

After Trump’s victory and during the presidential transition period, Comey briefed Trump on the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier, containing salacious allegations of purported coordination between Trump and the Russian government. It was authored by Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence officer.

The DOJ inspector general later revealed that the unverified dossier helped serve as the basis for controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

It is now widely known that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the dossier through the law firm Perkins Coie.

During the early months of Trump’s administration, Jeff Sessions, who served as attorney general at the time, recused himself from oversight of the FBI’s Russia investigation, due to his involvement with the Trump campaign, per Justice Department regulations. Then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was then tasked with oversight of the investigation.

Trump, in May 2017, fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Comey, during his June 2017 testimony to Congress, said he deliberately leaked a memo from a key meeting with Trump to a friend after he was fired in order to prompt the appointment of a special counsel.

“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter—I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel,” Comey testified.

Mueller’s investigation and report

Days after Comey was fired, Rosenstein appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to take over the FBI’s Trump-Russia probe.

Simultaneously, investigations into Trump-Russia allegations were launched on Capitol Hill—in both chambers of Congress.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Intelligence Committee opened investigations into whether Trump and members of his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential race.

Neither the House nor Senate investigation found evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.

After nearly two years, Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in March 2019, yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

Simultaneously, investigations into Trump-Russia allegations were launched on Capitol Hill—in both chambers of Congress.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Intelligence Committee opened investigations into whether Trump and members of his campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential race.

Neither the House nor Senate investigation found evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.

After nearly two years, Mueller’s investigation, which concluded in March 2019, yielded no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential election.

Investigations led by House Democrats

In March 2019, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., announced a wide-ranging probe into almost every aspect of Trump’s administration, business ventures, and family dealings, subpoenaing more than 81 individuals and entities to investigate “alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption, and other abuses of power by President Trump.”

But Nadler wasn’t alone— a number of other House panels also stepped up inquiries.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which was chaired, at the time, by Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., dissolved the panel’s subcommittee on terrorism and re-directed those resources to a subcommittee dedicated, instead, to investigations related to Trump—specifically his relationships and communications with foreign officials, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Congressional committees, at the time, were also seeking access to State Department employees and contractors with knowledge of Trump’s communications with Putin, including the “linguists, translators, or interpreters” who participated in or listened to Trump-Putin meetings.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-targeted-look-investigations-involving-former-president-from-russia-mar-a-lago

 

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