BY: JOSEPH DANCU
Those hoping to shed some light on President Trump’s financial ties to Russia will have to continue waiting as top republicans on Capitol Hill have said that they will not pursue the matter. As new information emerges every day showing the deeply embedded and widespread Russian disinformation campaign in American politics, many of us are left wondering- what are the Republicans doing?
On the other side of the aisle Democrats insist that in order to determine the extent of any collusion in the 2016 elections, understanding the financial link between the Trump family and business and the Russians is expressly important, especially as it concerns possible money laundering. If financial ties do exist between Trump and the Kremlin, such information should be public knowledge.
Although democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee do not have the same resources as special counsel Robert Mueller, who is currently involved in several investigations into possible collusion and interference in the 2016 election, several members have requested that Deutsche Bank, a known lender to the Trump Organization and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, be subpoenaed.
House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy, a top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, thinks the responsibility of following the money trail as part of the Russia investigation rests primarily on Mueller. Since taking over as Chairman in June, Gowdy has failed to grant a single subpoena. More importantly, Deutsche Bank has said it will not release confidential information unless presented with one. The bank, however, has allegedly responded to the special counsel’s subpoenas for records.
The reasons behind the Republicans’ refusal to look into the matter remain unclear, but what is certain is that they’re more than capable of carrying out lengthy and expensive investigations if willing, as demonstrated with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following the Benghazi, Libya incident, which was estimated to have cost $7 million in taxpayer funds before being shut down. One could argue that the possibility of the President of the United States having financial ties to Russia would call for as much urgency as the Benghazi investigation, if not more.
Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson told the House Intelligence Committee last year that Trump’s and Kushner’s real estate dealings should also be of focus in the investigation. Democrats have since raised concern over foreign transactions in places such as the Cayman Islands and Cyprus, specifically surrounding Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who was recently hit with charges accusing him and former deputy Rick Gates of laundering $30 million and fraudulently securing more than $20 million in loans through real estate holdings. Some of the allegations concern Manafort and Gates during their time with the Trump campaign.
But despite the mounting evidence, some senators such as Utah’s Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, have refused to review Trump’s tax returns even in private, claiming that Trump is right in refusing to give up that information. Leading up to the 2016 election, the Trump campaign repeatedly said that it would release the tax returns upon completion of an audit by the Internal Revenue Services, but shortly after being sworn into office the White House walked back these statements, saying that they would not be released because people were not interested. On the contrary, a recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 67% of American voters think President Donald Trump should publicly release his tax returns.
The noxious divide between republicans and democrats can be expected to continue going forward. As both parties continue to disagree over what constitutes this investigation, it is clear that special counsel Robert Mueller will have to be the example that leads the way as he attempts to uncover the extent of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election and whether Trump is indeed financially entangled, with the latter potentially explaining the reluctance of some congress members due to its far reaching implications.
Joseph Dancu is currently a due diligence analyst at an investment bank and a freelance research consultant. He previously worked in geriatric case management for several years at a non-government organization and held various positions in the hospitality, retail banking, medical and retail industries. Joseph received his MPA in Inspection and Oversight from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and his BA in Psychology from Hunter College
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