The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) for any financial information it might have on Donald Trump, top administration officials, and people in his campaign, according to the ranking Democrat on the committee, Virginia Senator Mark Warner. Just to make sure there aren’t any financial shenanigans or tomfoolery in other countries, particularly with Russia. Which there aren’t of course, because the president says Russia is a ruse — possibly the whole country. Lord knows we’ve never been there, so he could be right.
“We’ve made a request, to FinCEN in the Treasury Department, to make sure, not just for example vis-a-vis the President, but just overall our effort to try to follow the intel no matter where it leads,” Sen. Mark Warner told CNN. “You get materials that show if there have been, what level of financial ties between, I mean some of the stuff, some of the Trump-related officials, Trump campaign-related officials and other officials and where those dollars flow — not necessarily from Russia.”
What Warner seems to be trying to say with the words coming out of his mouth is that FinCEN is the branch of the Treasury that investigates money laundering by crimers and terrorists, including money laundering through big real estate transactions, which just might be of interest in any investigation of Team Trump, maybe.
Warner is serious enough about the request for financial information that he’s willing to hold up hearings on confirming Trump nominee Sigal Mandelker until the request is fulfilled, which is pretty remarkable considering that Trump has nominated so few people for his administration in the first place:
“Chairman Burr and I requested that information — until we get it, I’m not going to support the administration’s nominee for undersecretary of Treasury finance, for terrorism and finance, because they owe us these documents first,” Warner said.
Warner didn’t specify on whom exactly the Intelligence Committee is requesting data or what documents have been requested, and while the committee’s Republican chair, Richard Burr, said Tuesday he “won’t confirm anything that the committee’s working on,” when asked about Warner’s comments, he said “I’ll let that stand.” So we guess that’s a non-confirmation confirmation.
On Monday, the question of Trump’s financial ties to Russia came up during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, when Lindsey Graham asked Clapper if he’d ever encountered “a situation where a Trump business interest in Russia” caused him “concern.” Clapper declined to directly answer that one, saying he was unable to “comment on that because that impacts the investigation.” Oh? What investigation would that be?
On Tuesday, Graham went on CNN to say he wanted “to know more about Trump’s business dealings,” since Clapper had said he couldn’t answer that question since maybe it would get in the way of the FBI’s investigation. Graham later walked the comment back slightly, saying his own investigation at Judiciary wasn’t specifically investigating Trump’s businesses, but was more interested in “all things Russia.” Coincidentally, “All Things Russia” is our second least favorite public radio show, right after “This American Carnage.”
Ah, but Graham’s possible interest in Trump’s Russian connections sure got a reaction from the Trump administration Tuesday; asked about Graham’s comments, Sean Spicer assured the press Trump’s totally on top of it:
“He has no business in Russia. He has no connections to Russia. So he welcomes that.”
“In fact, he has already charged a leading law firm in Washington, D.C. to send a certified letter to Sen. Graham to that point, that he has no connections to Russia,” Spicer added. “So that should be a really easy look.”
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Now we’re just waiting for Spicer to explain the Senate can call off that request to FinCEN, because he’s going to fax over a copy of that letter. Maybe on a secure line, even!
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