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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that the incoming Democratic majority on the House Intelligence Committee is planning to hire experts in money laundering and forensic accounting, with the goal of investigating President Donald Trump’s finances.

The committee, which will now be led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), reportedly plans to investigate Trump’s financial links to Russia. But that is not all they are interested in looking at:

Schiff, a California Democrat, has said publicly and privately that he’s interested in President Donald Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank, the German financial giant that has been scorched for its connections to money-laundering. When other lenders were loath to lend money to Trump in the 1990s, Deutsche Bank stepped up and spotted him tons of cash. The president may still owe the bank up to $175 million, according to MarketWatch. Bringing on staffers with expertise in financial crimes would position the committee to pursue those questions.

Financial crimes have already taken center stage in criminal investigations into Trump’s associates. Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank fraud and tax evasion in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, while Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to fraud charges stemming from his payoff to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

Investigations into Trump’s finances would be a massive shift from the direction of the Intelligence Committee under Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who was mainly interested in using the committee to discredit the FBI’s investigation of Trump.

But even beyond Trump, the House having the expertise and manpower to investigate financial crimes would be a huge improvement. White-collar crime in general is an area where law enforcement is sorely lacking, which is no doubt partly why Manafort and Cohen thought they could do what they did.

It is clear that under the Democratic House, things are going to be different.

Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.

 

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