After Mueller: The Ongoing Investigations Surrounding Trump
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has wrapped up, but Trump and his associates may not be out of legal jeopardy yet.
After 675 days, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is over. But President Donald Trump’s legal troubles are far from finished.
What has ended is the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, which began after the United States assessed that Moscow had intervened in the vote to tip the election in Trump’s favor. Both Trump and Russia have consistently denied this. But Mueller’s investigation has led to 215 criminal charges, 38 indictments or pleas, and five prison sentences so far. His probe ensnared Trump’s business associates, many of whom had become involved in his political career, including his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The special counsel’s office also unearthed a web of criminality, not always directly related to Russian interference.
Mueller’s probe pursued multiple lines of inquiry, spiraling out from Trump’s immediate circle into investigations implicating foreign nationals and Washington lobbyists. As a direct result of Mueller and his team’s work, at least eight people, including Manafort and Cohen, were convicted of crimes ranging from unregistered foreign lobbying to campaign-finance violations.
Mueller referred a number of cases to federal prosecutors in New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.—and their investigations are ongoing. At the same time, several congressional committees are also pursuing their own investigations.
Here’s a list of all the ongoing government investigations that could spell legal trouble for Trump, regardless of whether he’s president, and the people and entities associated with him.
Many of the investigations that Mueller’s team prosecuted or referred to other prosecutors ended up in federal attorneys’ offices in the Washington, D.C., area. Even though the special counsel’s probe is over, some of the investigations remain ongoing. Here’s what’s left, as far as we know:
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
At least three investigations in this district have not yet concluded. Prosecutors are reportedly looking into the financial dealings of Trump’s inauguration committee, which took in a record $107 million for the festivities surrounding his inauguration, in January 2017. In February, prosecutors subpoenaed a wide range of documents from the inauguration committee, and investigators seem particularly interested in whether it took money from donors connected to Middle Eastern governments.
Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are also reportedly looking into whether Manafort, as chairman of Trump’s campaign, illegally coordinated with a pro-Trump super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, and whether that super PAC also received donations from people connected to Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries. These investigations have not yet led to any indictments or charges.
Two lobbying firms indicted for their failure to register as foreign lobbyists, Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group, have also not reached a conclusion in their cases. A third firm, Skadden Arps, settled its case in January.
During testimony before the House Oversight Committee in February, Trump’s former personal lawyer Cohen revealed that prosecutors were also looking into his communications with Trump and Trump’s representatives following the FBI raid of Cohen’s office in April 2018. SDNY prosecutors have not publicly commented on this investigation, though recently released court documents show that Mueller had a warrant to look into Cohen’s emails as early as July 2017.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia
Three unresolved cases are in this district. Kamil Ekim Alptekin, an associate of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, was indicted and charged for acting as an agent of the Turkish government and lying to the FBI. He has not appeared in court and, as far as we know, hasn’t been arrested; his case is unlikely to be resolved quickly for that reason. Another Flynn associate, Bijan Kian, is still awaiting trial for failing to register as a foreign agent after working on behalf of the Turkish government. Kian has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors have also indicted Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, the accountant for the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm that authorities believe created fake social-media accounts to influence United States elections. She has been charged with crimes relating to interfering in both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm election. Though a warrant has been out for her arrest since last October, she isn’t in custody as far as we know, either.
The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia
The ongoing cases in the D.C. District Court are almost all related to the WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party. A number of Trump associates charged as part of the Mueller probe are still awaiting sentencing in this district as well.
The longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was arrested in January 2019 and charged with making false statements, witness tampering, and obstructing an official proceeding. The FBI raided his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he was arrested. Stone has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is set for November 5. After a series of ill-advised social-media posts, one of which depicted Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over his case, in crosshairs, Jackson placed Stone under a full gag order.
Flynn, the former national security adviser, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI in December 2017. He has not been sentenced, because he has been cooperating with Mueller’s investigation, leading to speculation that he could receive a greatly reduced sentence due to the extent of his cooperation.
Rick Gates, a business associate of Manafort, was charged with conspiracy and failure to register as a foreign agent, among other charges. Gates pleaded guilty and cooperated at length with Mueller’s investigation, including testifying at Manafort’s trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Konstantin Kilimnik, another Manafort associate charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, has also been indicted, but has not yet appeared before the court.
Prosecutors have also been busy charging Russians and Russian companies with attempting to interfere in the United States political system. Maria Butina, a Russian national attending graduate school in the United States, pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an unregistered Russian agent. She worked to infiltrate a number of conservative organizations at the direction of a Russian government official. Butina pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal, but has yet to be sentenced.
In February 2018, three Russian businesses, including the Internet Research Agency, and 13 Russian nationals were charged with federal crimes committed while they allegedly attempted to interfere in the United States political system, particularly the 2016 presidential election. The Trump administration imposed financial sanctions on the individuals and businesses indicted.
In July 2018, a grand jury charged 12 Russian intelligence officers for their roles in “large-scale cyber operations” aimed at meddling in the 2016 presidential election. These officers are alleged to have been behind the email hacks, and they allegedly coordinated with WikiLeaks to release the hacked emails before the election. As far as we know, the Russian intelligence officers haven’t been arrested, and no further public information is available on this case.
Department of Justice (Public Integrity Section)
In August 2018, The Washington Post reported that the Department of Justice was investigating Elliott Broidy, a prominent Republican fundraiser, for possibly attempting to cash in on his connections with the Trump administration by requesting millions of dollars from foreign governments in exchange for pushing the administration to take actions benefiting those countries. ProPublica reported in March that federal investigators had, at some point during the previous year, raided Broidy’s Los Angeles office. Their search warrant authorized them to seize a wide range of evidence related to Broidy’s contacts with foreign governments, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and China, as well as people including Rick Gates.
Broidy has been linked to George Nader, a witness in Mueller’s probe who also has close ties with the UAE.
Other State and Local Investigations
In addition to the investigations in New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., that are directly related to Mueller’s probe, other jurisdictions are conducting numerous investigations into various people and organizations with connections to Trump.
State Attorneys General Investigating Trump’s Inauguration Committee
The attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, like investigators in the Southern District of New York, have each subpoenaed the records of Trump’s inauguration committee, indicating a widening prosecutorial interest into that committee’s practices.
New York State and New York City
At least four ongoing investigations are happening at the state and local level in New York. The tax departments for both New York State and New York City have opened investigations into Trump’s taxes after a New York Times investigation found that Trump benefited from a $400 million tax scheme.
In March, the New York attorney general opened an investigation into Trump Organization projects, including four major Trump Hotel and Tower projects and the organization’s failed attempt to purchase the Buffalo Bills football team. The office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for its financial records related to the Trump Organization. Even when other banks refused to lend to Trump, Deutsche Bank became his go-to lender, and the New York attorney general hopes that it kept records of his financial practices that could be of use to the state in its investigations.
The New York attorney general is reportedly still conducting a criminal investigation into the activities of the Trump Foundation, even though the foundation is dissolving. After a two-year investigation, the New York attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit alleging that the Trump Foundation violated campaign-finance law and coordinated with Trump’s presidential campaign.
State Attorneys General Suing Trump or His Organizations
Other states have moved to file lawsuits against Trump and his businesses after investigations: the attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia sued Trump in 2017 for allegedly violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution.
Other State Court Probes
Trouble could also still be brewing in state courts for some Trump associates who have already been convicted as part of the Mueller probe. The Manhattan district attorney indicted Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, on 16 charges, including mortgage fraud. A key difference between these charges and the ones Manafort was convicted of in federal court is that Trump would not be able to pardon Manafort for these crimes, should he be convicted.
While Mueller’s investigation may be over, congressional Democrats have made it clear that they intend to conduct a thorough investigation of their own. On March 14, the House of Representatives voted unanimously on a resolution demanding that Attorney General William Barr release the Mueller investigation’s full findings. The resolution was sent to the Senate, where the Republican Lindsey Graham said he would only vote for it if it created a second special counsel that would investigate Hillary Clinton’s emails, effectively blocking the resolution’s passage.
Congress is launching the next wave of investigations into the Trump presidency. Here’s a rundown of all the committees in play:
The House Intelligence Committee
In the spring of 2018, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee’s probe concluded that, while Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, it did not do so to aid President Trump, contrary to the universal findings of the U.S. intelligence community. It also concluded that there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The investigation was led by Republican Representative Devin Nunes, a member of the Trump transition team who has long denied contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Nunes’s involvement contributed to the probe’s heightened politicization, especially after reporting revealed that Nunes had been sharing material with the White House behind the committee’s back.
Now controlled by Democrats and chaired by Representative Adam Schiff, the Intelligence Committee has reopened its investigation into Russian interference and expanded the scope of the probe, hiring numerous investigators such as Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in Russian organized crime. The committee is pursuing five lines of inquiry: the scope and scale of Russian interference in the U.S. political process; the extent to which the Russian government connected with the Trump campaign; whether any foreign actor has leverage over Trump; whether members of Trumpworld have been at risk of having a foreign actor hold leverage over them; and whether any actor, including the president, attempted to obstruct justice.
A key point of investigation is the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Russian officials, which was allegedly convened with the understanding that Trump associates could receive damning details about Clinton from the Russians. If this is true, it would constitute an illegal campaign contribution to a political campaign. In early March, Cohen testified before the committee in a closed hearing, and Schiff pledged to release the transcript. However, on March 12, he said the committee was holding the transcript for now because investigators needed to follow up on multiple leads. Politico reported that Cohen also gave the committee numerous documents to support his claim that Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s attorneys, edited Cohen’s false testimony before Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow deal. Sekulow said it was “completely false” that Trump’s attorneys had “edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations.”
Schiff also told reporters that he was interested in investigating Cohen’s claim that the president knew about Stone’s communications with WikiLeaks. Felix Sater, a Trump-allied real-estate developer who worked on the Trump Tower Moscow deal, will testify before the committee on March 27.
The House Financial Services Committee
The Intelligence Committee is also planning a joint investigation with the House Financial Services Committee that will look into Deutsche Bank’s lending practices. Chaired by the Democrat Maxine Waters, the Financial Services Committee plans to look into why Deutsche Bank was willing to lend money to the Trump Organization when other financial entities would not. According to Waters, Trump’s family, including Ivanka Trump and Kushner, bank with Deutsche bank.
Deutsche Bank has been fined in the past for money laundering for Russian clients, and is under scrutiny for its involvement with Danske Bank of Denmark, which is also under scrutiny for money laundering. The committee is looking to see whether illicit money, from Russia or otherwise, ended up in any of the Trump Organization’s accounts, and whether there is any evidence of money laundering, Russian or otherwise. Deutsche Bank has said it plans to assist the lawmakers “in their official oversight functions.”
The House Oversight Committee
Led by Chairman Elijah Cummings, the Oversight Committee is pursuing multiple investigations into Trump and his administration. When the Republicans controlled the committee, they blocked at least 64 subpoena requests filed by Democrats. Now that Democrats are in power, they can reissue those subpoenas.
The committee heard testimony from Cohen on March 7, 2019. Cohen suggested that President Trump knew about Roger Stone’s connections to WikiLeaks, and testified that Trump’s lawyers edited his initial testimony to Congress about Trump Tower Moscow. He also suggested that Trump has inflated his assets, and was also aware of Cohen’s hush money payments to the adult-film star Stormy Daniels. According to CNN, the committee has also requested interviews with two attorneys—former White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino and Trump’s personal attorney Sheri Dillon—after evidence emerged suggesting they might have lied to federal ethics officials about payments made to Daniels.
The committee is also investigating the process for obtaining security clearance in the White House, following a report from The New York Times that Trump intervened to give his son-in-law, Kushner, security clearance. The committee has asked the White House for documents and launched a broader investigation into the clearance process overall.
Additionally, the committee is investigating Trump’s activities in regards to the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., and whether Trump’s business interests as a landlord have been aided by his position as president.
The House Judiciary Committee
In February 2019, the committee, chaired by Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler, hired Special Oversight Counsels Barry Berke and Norm Eisen to help consult on oversight of the Department of Justice, including matters of the Mueller investigation. In early March, the committee launched a wide-scale investigation into three questions: whether Trump’s alleged interference with criminal investigations amounts to obstruction of justice; whether Trump or his associates broke campaign-finance laws; and whether Trump has committed abuses of power through his frequent attacks on the press, the courts, and certain law-enforcement agencies. It requested documents from more than 80 people and organizations in the Trump orbit or connected to alleged foreign interference in U.S. elections, including Donald Trump Jr., and threatened to issue subpoenas for the documents if they were not provided to the committee.
In 2019, the committee has heard both public and private testimony from former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, which covered conversations Whitaker had with the White House regarding the Mueller probe.
If Congress were to move to impeach the president, it would begin in this committee.
The House Ways and Means Committee
Ways and Means is one of Congress’s most powerful committees, and Democratic Chairman Richard Neal has said he plans to build a case for subpoenaing a copy of Trump’s personal and professional tax returns. The president has been under pressure to release his returns since the 2016 campaign, but has consistently refused, leading some to believe that they contain evidence of financial malfeasance. On February 7, the committee held a hearing on “legislative proposals and tax law related to presidential and vice-presidential tax returns,” which looked into ways the committee could legally obtain the returns.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee
Democratic Chairman Eliot Engel has said he plans to investigate whether Trump’s business ties abroad are affecting his foreign-policy decisions. Specifically, Engel said he wanted to look into whether Trump violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause. On February 27, 2019, the committee held a full hearing on the Trump administration’s foreign policy.
On March 4, Engel, in conjunction with the Intelligence Committee and the Oversight Committee, also issued a letter demanding documents and interviews about Trump’s communications with Putin.
Senate Intelligence Committee
The Senate Intelligence Committee has been investigating Russian interference since 2017, and the committee’s Republican chairman, Richard Burr, said the investigation will continue into 2019. It has interviewed more than 200 witnesses and obtained hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. The investigation has examined links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, as well as the larger interference in the 2016 election by Russian operatives. The committee has seen some of the congressional highlights of the Russia probe; former FBI Director James Comey testified to the president’s possible obstruction of justice, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified about his deals with then–Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, which led him to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Kushner, Manafort, and Donald Trump Jr. have all testified for the Senate Intelligence Committee in closed-door hearings, as did Cohen, who was later revealed to have lied. On July 3, 2018, the committee issued a report concluding that Russia interfered in the 2016 election with the intention to help Trump. It has also issued a report detailing Russia’s extensive disinformation campaign.
On February 7, Burr told CBS that the committee has yet to find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Democratic Vice Chairman Mark Warner disagreed with Burr’s comments. Critics have pointed out that Burr has not held public hearings with key campaign officials and did not expand the committee’s investigative staff when the investigation began. While the bipartisan committee has been largely scandal-free, our colleague Natasha Bertrand reported in February that the committee has “recently begun to disagree more publicly on what the facts they’ve collected add up to: Conspiracy? A series of coincidences and bad decisions? Or something in between?” On March 2, 2019, Bertrand also reported that the committee is now looking into at least three trips Trump took to Russia and the U.S.S.R. over the past 30 years.