Not long after Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel, Donald Trump declared it would be a “violation” for the investigation to touch the Trump Organization or his family finances. Pressed on whether he would fire Mueller if that line were crossed, Trump said: “I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Now, it looks like it is going to happen. But the public face of the investigation of Trump’s finances won’t be Mueller. Leading the charge will be someone Trump cannot fire: California congressman Adam Schiff, newly installed chairman of the House intelligence committee and a former federal prosecutor himself.
With Democrats having taken over the House, Trump faces a pack of potential antagonists. Newly installed chairs are ramping up plans to scrutinize corruption inside the Trump administration, investigate alleged attempts to profit from the presidency, and to review policies such as family border separations.
But most threatening for Trump personally might be the investigations led by Schiff, who has said he plans to drive directly at an area the president has sought to fence off: the details of his businesses, his lenders, and his partners in the US and abroad.
“First and foremost, I would say that we need to get to the bottom of anything that could warp our national security policy in a way that is antithetical to the interest of the country,” Schiff told the Lawfare podcast. “So anything that has a continuing ability to influence the actions of the president, we need to know, as policymakers, to protect the country.
“One of the issues that has continued to concern me are the persistent allegations that the Trumps, when they couldn’t get money from US banks, were laundering Russian money. If that is true, that would be more powerful compromise than any salacious video tape or any aborted Trump tower deal.”