Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents as part of the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
Mueller’s subpoena concerns documents related to Russia in addition to other topics, the Times reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.
The scope of the subpoena, including how far it extends to topics outside Russia, was not immediately known, nor was it clear why Mueller subpoenaed the organization for the documents as opposed to simply requesting them.
Responding to questions about the subpoena on Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump would continue to cooperate with Mueller's effort.
The subpoena is the most direct move by the special counsel to go after documents related to Trump’s business empire and brings the probe closer to Trump.
The president told the Times in a June interview that Mueller would be crossing a “red line” if the special counsel began investigating his family’s finances with other countries outside of Russia.
The subpoena also suggests the investigation continues to evolve after recent reports that Mueller’s team is interested in an adviser to the United Arab Emirates, signaling a probe that Trump had hoped would end soon could carry on for months.
Mueller is investigating any possible connections between Moscow’s involvement in the 2016 election and Trump’s campaign and organization, as well as whether there were efforts to obstruct the federal investigation.
He has gotten guilty pleas from former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn; Richard Gates, a former campaign official and business associate of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDOJ investigating one-time Trump campaign adviser over alleged ties to Qatar: report Foreign lobbyists donated over M during 2020 election: report Former Mueller prosecutor representing Donoghue in congressional probes: report MORE; and former Trump campaign staffer George Papadapoulos. Mueller has also brought charges against Manafort unrelated to his time on the campaign.
Last month, Mueller charged 13 Russians and three Russian organizations for seeking to sow discord in the election through a disinformation campaign that used social media platforms and other sophisticated strategies to insert themselves in U.S. affairs.
Trump has repeatedly described the investigation as a “witch hunt,” maintaining that there was no coordination or collusion between his campaign and Russia.
It was reported earlier this month that Mueller has been asking witnesses about President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE's business dealings in Russia, but this is the first reported case in which Mueller has asked for directly related documents.
The special counsel and Trump’s legal counsel are reportedly in negotiations about setting up an interview with the president.
Reports in January surfaced that Trump sought to cut off the head of the investigative probe by firing Mueller. He broached the topic with his White House legal counsel, Donald McGahnDonald (Don) F. McGahnCongress hits rock bottom in losing to the president in subpoena ruling Rudy Giuliani's reputation will never recover from the impeachment hearings In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book MORE, who threatened to quit if such a course of action was pursued, ultimately discouraging Trump from what would be a highly controversial ouster.
Jonathan Easley contributed to this story.