If the president came into office thinking he was going to get away with corruption, he has quickly been proven wrong. Special Counsel for the Russia investigation Robert Mueller is continuing his work to explore and understand every possible corrupt, improper connection of the Trump team to foreign interests, including those connected to the Kremlin.
There has been a new round of reports recently about new areas of interest for the special counsel’s team, and this past week, ABC had something more new to add. According to the outlet, the special counsel’s team has been questioning witnesses about foreign-linked donations to the Trump inaugural committee. Among those questioned along these lines is longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack, who only just recently was revealed to have sat for an interview with the special counsel’s team. He led the fundraising efforts for the Trump inauguration.
Areas of interest for the special counsel’s team have included — besides donations to Trump’s inauguration with ties to Russia — donations with ties to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. There have already been reports of the special counsel looking into whether or not political consultant George Nader illegally funneled U.A.E. money to the Trump team; this new reporting from ABC adds some breadth to the public understanding of that area of interest for the special counsel.
In addition to that concern, the special counsel has been looking into donations from American businessman Andrew Intrater to the Trump inaugural committee and other Republican bodies looking for funds. Intrater is the American cousin of Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg; the two men run companies in their respective countries that have been described as closely linked. Intrater gave a quarter of a million dollars to the Trump inaugural committee and in the aftermath of that, both he and Vekselberg attended Trump’s inauguration.
Vekselberg has already been reported recently to have been stopped by authorities for questioning earlier this year after he disembarked from a plane in New York. He was hit with sanctions recently as a part of the delayed Trump administration response to Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Another person of interest for the special counsel’s team, according to ABC, is Leonard Blavatnik, described by the outlet as “a billionaire with dual U.S. and British citizenship who has extensive business ties in Russia.” Through his company, he gave a whopping $1 million to the Trump inaugural committee.
Neither he nor Intrater offered comment to ABC News when pressed.
The new reporting comes on the heels of other recent contentious reporting, including that Intrater’s company — Columbus Nova — paid half a million dollars to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. That money was dished out in return for services from Cohen under the moniker of “Essential Consultants,” which is the shell company he set up to dish out hush money to Stormy Daniels covering an affair she had with his boss.
Cohen was paid large sums of money by companies including AT&T for similar “consulting” services. He is currently facing a wide ranging criminal investigation covering the breadth of his business practices, including his legal work for President Trump.
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