Following the Friday night revelations that Jared Kushner had additional, previously-unrevealed communications with the Russian ambassador, and that Kushner had worked with the Russians in an attempt to set up a secret, back-door communications channel—one that was genuinely based on the idea that Trump’s people would come directly to the Russian embassy so they could connect to the Kremlin without being overheard—the Senate has decided to expand the scope of its investigation into Trump–Russia.
The Senate Intelligence Committee acted quickly to ask the Trump campaign to preserve all Russia-related documents going back to the start of the campaign.
The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race, has asked President Trump’s political organization to gather and produce all Russia-related documents, emails and phone records going back to his campaign’s launch in June 2015, according to two people briefed on the request.
The reasoning behind this request appears to be not just that there were other communications with Russia over that period, but that the investigation is extending into other areas of the Russian relationship.
The Senate investigation is widening, beyond individual aides to the campaign’s paper trail.
NBC also notes that this expansion is bipartisan, with Senate Republicans on the committee, led by chairman Richard Burr, also signing onto the request. On the House side, Congressman Jim Hines indicates that the House investigation should also take a broad approach. On both sides, this represents a definite expansion of the material being considered.
The request to Trump’s political operatives represents the first time that Trump’s official campaign structure has been drawn into the Senate committee’s ongoing bipartisan investigation. That investigation is separate from the federal probe being led by the Justice Department’s special counsel, former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III.
This follows on news that Democrats in the House were investigating financial connections between Trump and Russia as well as issues related directly to the campaign.
On Wednesday a group of House Democrats took a significant step on this front. They sent a letter to German banking giant Deutsche Bank asking for information regarding the four large loans Trump has received from the bank. In particular, the lawmakers are looking for information indicating whether the Russian government guaranteed any of the Trump loans or if these transactions “were in any way connected to Russia.”
It’s not clear yet whether this information is also being sought by the Republican-led committees. What is clear is that it’s getting harder for anyone, no matter how they want to restrict the investigation, to draw clear boundaries around what’s in and what’s out. And there does seem to be more than meets the eye to Trump’s connection to Deutsche Bank.
“At a time when nearly all other financial institutions refused to lend to Trump after his businesses repeatedly declared bankruptcy, Deutsche Bank continued to do so—even after the President sued the Bank and defaulted on a prior loan from the Bank—to the point where his companies now owe your institution an estimated $340 million,” the Democratic lawmakers stated in their letter to Deutsche Bank. “Only with full disclosure can the American public determine the extent of the President’s financial ties to Russia and any impact such ties may have on his policy decisions.”