By Michael Kranish | Washington Post
WASHINGTON – A group of Democrats implored the Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee to reverse course and authorize an investigation whether any of the hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Deutsche Bank to President Donald Trump were connected to Russia.
The Democrats have previously said they want to know more about a $285 million loan in October 2016 to Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
In a letter sent to the committee chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the Democrats said they have been asking him since March to authorize an investigation. They asked him Friday to subpoena records from Deutsche Bank and authorize “a bipartisan investigation into the Bank’s money laundering activity and its review of its unusual loans to the President, his family, and his associates.”
Hensarling spokesman Sarah Rozier said in a statement to The Post that the congressman would refuse the request, which she called “blatantly partisan.”
“On our committee, there are some who obsessed with Russia and impeachment, while Republicans are focused on America and a healthier economy for all,” Rozier said. She noted that several other committees and special counsel Robert Mueller “are all conducting investigations in to the very serious matter of Russia interference in the last election.”
The Democrats, however, say the Financial Services Committee should use its jurisdiction to look into Deutsche Bank and its loan to Trump and his family, which they believe might be crucial to the Russia investigation.
The Democrats said they are particularly interested in obtaining an internal Deutsche Bank review that they said reportedly examined whether Trump’s loans were connected to Russia. In addition, the Democrats requested documents about a $10 billion money laundering scheme that originated in Deutsche Bank’s Moscow office. The bank paid a $425 million fine to settle a New York state investigation in that case. The U.S. Justice Department has declined to say whether it is also reviewing the matter.
“More than four months after we initially called on you to investigate Deutsche Bank’s Russian money laundering scheme, we still do not know who participated or benefited,” the Democrats wrote to Hensarling, saying there is public interest in knowing whether loans to Trump “were in any way connected to Russia.”
Under the committee’s rules, only the chairman can authorize a subpoena. He has refused a series of requests since March from Democrats seeking more information about Deutsche Bank and Trump. In July, the committee voted along party lines to deny a Democratic request for a “resolution of inquiry” that would have allowed them to obtain the records.
The letter was sent by Rep. Maxine Waters of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, and four other Democratic committee members.
A Deutsche Bank spokesman declined to specifically address the letter from Democrats, but said in a statement that the bank “takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations into this matter.”
The bank’s reference to “authorized investigations” is at the heart of the complaint from Democrats. After Hensarling blocked their effort to launch an investigation, Democrats requested records directly from the bank. The bank responded that it was not obligated to deliver them because the request was not part of a “duly authorized investigation.” Democrats interpreted that to mean such a request had to come from the Republican majority.
Deutsche Bank has long been Trump’s primary lender, and his company owes the Germany-based institution more than $500 million, according to financial records.
Kushner’s company received a $285 million refinancing loan from Deutsche Bank one month before Election Day, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents. He and his mother also have a line of credit from the bank worth up to $25 million, according to his financial disclosure report.
Mueller’s office has declined to say whether it is examining the Deutsche Bank loans. A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Kushner spokesman declined to comment. Kushner said in a statement to Congress last month that “I have not relied on Russian funds to finance my business activities in the private sector.”
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