Robert Mueller's investigation into Donald Trump seems to be heating up

Robert Mueller is ramping up his investigation into Trump, and is recruiting the IRS' top agents to do it

By Matthew Rozsa

Published September 1, 2017 8:04AM (EDT)

Donald Trump; Robert Mueller   (Getty/Joe Raedle/Brendan Smialowski/Photo montage by Salon)
Donald Trump; Robert Mueller (Getty/Joe Raedle/Brendan Smialowski/Photo montage by Salon)

President Donald Trump may not like the fact that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating him, but a series of new reports suggest that isn't deterring Mueller in the slightest from proactively pursuing potential criminality committed by the president.

Mueller is investigating notes taken by Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, during the June 2016 meeting that featured a lawyer connected to the Russian government, according to NBC News. The notes apparently included a reference to political contributions near a section in which it mentioned the Republican National Committee.

Although the reference to those contributions was made in close proximity to "RNC" on Manafort's phone, that doesn't necessarily prove that Manafort was discussing Russian contributions to Trump's campaign. If Trump did receive campaign donations from Russian sources, however, that would be illegal.

A report by The Daily Beast also indicates that Mueller is recruiting an elite unit from the IRS to assist in the investigation:

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.

In response to these and other avenues of investigation being pursued by Mueller and his team, Trump's lawyers are trying to undermine former FBI Director James Comey, according to The Wall Street Journal. Because there are accusations that Trump's firing of Comey constituted obstruction of justice, Trump's lawyers are arguing that the constitution grants the president authority to hire and fire as he pleased, meaning it couldn't have been obstructive. They're also arguing that Comey should not be called forth as a witness on the grounds that he is unreliable, exaggerates and was a leaker to the media.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Irs Robert Mueller Russia