US prosecutors probing Russia’s election meddling have subpoenaed financial records from Donald Trump’s long-time financiers Deutsche Bank, two sources said Tuesday, but the White House denied the president was targeted directly.
A source close to the matter told AFP that Germany’s biggest bank had received a subpoena from Robert Mueller’s team for documents related to its dealings with the US president and had already begun to provide them.
However, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders rejected reports of a subpoena for Trump-related financial records as “completely false,” as did Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow.
“No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources,” Sekulow said in a statement.
“We have confirmed that the news reports that the special counsel had subpoenaed financial records relating to the president are false.”
A second source familiar with the investigation told AFP that the subpoena was linked to Trump’s indicted former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
“There was a subpoena to Deutsche Bank in the Manafort case,” the source said.
German business paper Handelsblatt reported earlier Tuesday that Mueller had subpoenaed the German lender to hand over financial information about Trump and members of his family.
It reported that the subpoena arrived “a few weeks ago,” and that the most important files relevant to the request have already been sent to Mueller’s team.
Investigators were looking for “information about specific financial and credit transactions with the Trump family,” Handelsblatt reported.
After the White House denial, a source close to the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, reiterated to AFP that Deutsche Bank had received the request several weeks ago.
A spokeswoman for the German bank declined to comment on the reports when contacted by AFP, saying only that “Deutsche Bank takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter.”
– Four indictments so far –
Trump has a history of dealings with Deutsche Bank during his career as a New York property mogul, and his businesses owed it around $300 million in July 2016, according to a Bloomberg analysis.
The president’s wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner are all customers of Deutsche Bank’s wealth management arm, according to Handelsblatt.
The news came days after Mueller unveiled his fourth indictment in the sprawling Russia probe, which is examining possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and what US intelligence believes was an effort by Moscow to tilt the election in his favor.
One key indictment has been of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was accused of laundering $75 million in relation to work he did for the former Moscow-backed Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych.
On Friday Mueller charged Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn with lying to investigators about his contacts with Russian officials.
Flynn pleaded guilty to the charge in a deal under which he agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.
SOURCE: Luc OLINGA, Andrew BEATTY