In what’s turning out to be the most important investigation to protect American democracy in the history of the country, one special committee in Congress just isn’t enough to cover it. And although Robert Mueller has already secured guilty pleas and cooperation from quite a number of former associates of Donald Trump, we’re sure he doesn’t mind an outside assist.
So while the House and Senate Intelligence Committees work on subpoenas for witnesses, and the Ethics Committees make sure that everything is on the up and up during the investigation, the Senate Finance Committee has been doing a little legwork of its own, with access to documents that the others may not have.
Enter Oregon Senator Ron Wyden: In a letter to Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Wyden has requested copies of any and all documents or Suspicious Activity Reports pertaining to Trump’s 2008 sale of a Palm Beach, Florida property that included land and an ostentatious home, known as Maison de L’Amitie, to a Russian oligarch listed in January’s Treasury report on such figures.
It sounds like it could even be a coincidence at first. After all, it’s the sale of a house and some land to a really rich guy who happens to be from Russia. That’s what Trump said in a July 2016 interview about the transaction with Dmitry Rybolovlev a decade ago. But sale documents show that Trump bought the property in 2004 for just over $41 million, then sold it four years later for more than twice that amount — $95 million — to Rybolovlev. However, property reports from Palm Beach County in 2008 show that the home and land were appraised just four months before the sale for only $65 million.
The two questions you should be asking yourself at this point are, how, during the collapse of the housing bubble that peaked in 2006, did a mansion and property double in value — and if you (rightly) don’t believe it did, since the Palm Beach County Assessor’s office says it didn’t, why would a Russian oligarch pay an extra $30 million for a property that he subsequently visited once, then tore down the house and parceled up the land for sale himself?
Of course, Mueller had this probable bit of money laundering under his hat months ago. But watching the Senate Finance Committee take hold of Treasury documents that Mueller can then count on them to remember during future court proceedings against Trump feels one step closer to justice.
Featured image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images