Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team of investigators are leaving no stone unturned in their crusade to find something they can use to try and turn a member of Trump’s inner circle, The Daily Beast is reporting, citing a source close to Mueller, that the special counsel’s office has teamed up with the IRS’s Criminal Investigations Unit. The “elite” IRS investigations squad will help ensure that investigators apply the maximum possible scrutiny to the finances of Trump’s inner circle in an investigation that’s nominally about election fraud.
Of course, the public has long been aware, thanks to Mueller’s collaborators in the media, that his team has no solid evidence to support a charge of election fraud against Trump or members of his circle. And while this latest “partnership” just confirms widely held suspicions that Mueller & Co. are grasping at straws, it could provide Mueller an opening to strike directly at the president, his family and closest advisers - or at least embarass Trump with a fresh batch of leaks.
First, as the Daily Beast points out, partnering with the IRS will allow Mueller’s team to access Trump’s tax returns, which we can only assume will promptly be leaked to one of the former FBI director’s favorite journalists at the Washington Post or New York Times.
“This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.
And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public.
Potential financial crimes are a central part of Mueller’s probe. One of his top deputies, Andy Weissmann, formerly helmed the Justice Department’s Enron probe and has extensive experience working with investigative agents from the IRS."
Both Mueller and his deputy, Andy Weissmann, who formerly led the Justice Department’s Enron probe, have “extensive” experience working with IRS agents. So there’s little doubt they will play ball.
“’From the agents, I know everyone has the utmost respect for both Mueller and Weissmann,’ said Martin Sheil, a retired IRS Criminal Investigations agent.”
In its report, the Daily Beast shares some fresh insight into the prosecution’s case against Manafort. Naturally, we have a few questions: Can somebody explain what role Paul Manafort’s forgetting to check a box on his tax returned played in the grand conspiracy to rig the 2016 election?
“It’s been widely reported that the special counsel’s team is trying to “flip” Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign CEO, in hopes he will provide evidence against his former colleagues. Former federal prosecutors tell The Daily Beast one of Manafort’s biggest legal liabilities could be to what’s called a “check the box” prosecution. Federal law requires that people who have money in foreign bank accounts check a box on their tax returns disclosing that. And there’s speculation that Manafort may have neglected to check that box, which would be a felony. This is exactly the kind of allegation the IRS would look into.”
Even if Mueller and his team can’t find anything to justify an indictment, at least they can still punish members of Trump’s inner circle for their association with the president. Call it a consolation prize for inconsolable liberals.
“These investigations, which are often extremely complex, can take a lot of time. That means the people involved sometimes have to spend significant amounts of money on legal fees. The Daily Beast previously reported that targets of Mueller’s probe—including Manafort—are facing financial strain because of the probe, and that Manafort recently parted ways with the law firm WilmerHale in part because of his financial troubles.”
In a shocking moment of candor, the Daily Beast hints at what looks to be an ulterior motive for Mueller’s partnership with the IRS. The Trump administration never appointed an AAG to supervise the DOJ’s tax division, which would have to sign off on any charges relating to their finances. Therefore, he has “no one to keep Mueller in check,” as one former prosecutor phrased it.
“The fact that there is not a senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division, and that the Trump people have disregarded it despite warnings as far back as December that they needed to fill the AAG’s spot… shows what a self-created mess the Trump administration has found itself in,” said the former prosecutor, who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “They have no one to keep Mueller and his Brooklyn team honest. They should be concerned about that.”
To summarize, even if it has nothing to do with Donald Trump Jr.’s willingness to acquire “opposition research” on the Clinton’s, or Jared Kushner’s initial failure to disclosure meetings with certain foreign officials on his security clearance application – or any of the other leaks used to cast aspersions on Trump and his associates – Mueller may have found his opening. It may only be a matter of time before the other shoe drops.