In its latest exclusive 'bombshell' report, CNN has just announced that Special Counsel Mueller's team is now working directly with the IRS to collect financial information on Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn. Of course, given that the FBI and Mueller raided Manafort's home over two months ago and speculation of an imminent indictment has been circulating for days/weeks, it would seem like this wouldn't be much of a surprise...but anything to keep the 'Russian collusion' headlines coming...
The IRS is now sharing information with special counsel Robert Mueller about key Trump campaign officials, after the two entities clashed this summer over both the scope of the investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and a raid on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's home, people briefed on the matter tell CNN.
After several months of being at odds, one source said, the IRS Criminal Investigation division is now sharing information about campaign associates, including Manafort and former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn. The sharing happened after the two camps reached an agreement following consultation with officials at the Treasury Department.
A former high-level Justice Department official says the information shared would include anything tax return-related such as real estate and banking records. The former official added the IRS is very restricted in what information it can share under Title 26 US Code and would normally need a specific grand jury subpoena in order to share tax returns with another agency.
CNN also notes that the IRS elected not to participate in Mueller's July Raid due to concerns that "the search would interfere with the separate IRS investigation of Manafort."
CNN has learned that the IRS did not participate in the July raid by FBI agents in part because of IRS objections that the search would interfere with the separate IRS investigation of Manafort, according to people briefed on the investigations.
The special counsel's office decided to proceed with the search on Manafort's home with only FBI agents carrying it out, the sources said.
The absence of IRS criminal investigations agents for the raid is unusual for a probe that centers on tax and financial matters. As CNN has previously reported, during the raid the FBI collected tax and other financial documents from Manafort's home, according to search warrant documents in the Manafort raid. The search warrant documents said the scope of the investigation includes possible crimes beginning January 1, 2006, a source told CNN.
Of course, the real question is whether Mueller has requested Trump's tax returns from the IRS and what hurdles would be required to receive such information should he become convinced it were necessary.
The new information about the depth of IRS involvement renews questions surrounding the controversial issue of President Donald Trump's tax returns, which he refused to release during the campaign despite decades of precedent by presidential candidates.
It is not clear whether the special counsel has asked for or obtained Trump's tax returns. Sources say if Mueller's office does have Trump's returns, then Rosenstein, who oversees the probe, likely would have needed to sign off, given the sensitivity surrounding the matter.
After that, the only other outstanding question is where to set the over-under on Manafort's perp walk and whether or not it will result in what Mueller truly covets: dirt on Trump.