Democratic House Intel member alleges 'plenty of evidence to suggest' Trump Organization money laundering

California Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, is making the accusation that...

Posted: Jan 20, 2018 5:23 AM
Updated: Jan 20, 2018 5:23 AM

California Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, is making the accusation that past Trump Organization real estate deals show evidence of money laundering.

"I think there is plenty of evidence to suggest that there has been money laundering going on in many of the real estate deals that were done by the Trump Organization," Speier said in an interview Thursday on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time."

Speier's accusations echo those of Rep. Adam Schiff

The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released a transcript of its interview with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson

"If you start tracking these various projects, you can see a connection, you can see a relationship," she said later in the interview.

The Democratic congresswoman asserted that "money laundering is a huge component" of the closed-door interview the House Intelligence Committee had with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson in November.

In that interview, Simpson defended the crafting of the now-infamous opposition research dossier and detailed the connections his firm found between the Trump world and Russia, according to a transcript released by the committee on Thursday.

The transcript shows that Simpson said Fusion GPS was investigating Trump's real estate deals and suspicions of money laundering through Russian officials before the firm hired ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to compile the dossier. Simpson told lawmakers he thought it was possible there was a "crime in progress."

Trump has called the dossier "fake" and "made up."

The Trump Organization did not return CNN's request for comment Friday morning on Speier's remarks. Alan Garten, the Trump Organization's chief counsel, told Reuters that the deals Simpson referenced mainly involved properties to which Trump licensed his name, as opposed to owning, developing or selling them.

"These accusations are completely reckless and unsubstantiated for a multitude of reasons," Garten told the news agency.

"These issues have nothing to do with the scope of the investigation" by the House Intelligence Committee, Garten told Reuters in a phone interview. "But it's not surprising the minority (Democrats) would focus on this given they've found absolutely no evidence of collusion."

Related: Fusion GPS leader suspected 'crime' when probing Trump team and Russia

A transcript of Simpson's six-hour interview was released by the committee after a unanimous vote to make it public.

When pressed on what evidence she has to back up her assertion, Speier said she believes that there's other possible evidence of money laundering besides the Simpson transcript, pointing to a "great deal of open source documentation about a lot of these deals."

"The fact that the Russian ties to the Trump Organization were so strong and then coincidentally you have the Russians interfering in our election, it all becomes very, very disturbing," Speier said.

Speier's accusations echo those of the top Democrat on the committee. Following the release of the Simpson transcript, California Rep. Adam Schiff said it reveals "serious allegations that the Trump Organization may have engaged in money laundering with Russian nationals."

When CNN's Chris Cuomo asked what real estate had to do with their core investigative mission, Speier said she believes the alleged money laundering activity is connected to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

"With the extent to which these were Russian persons, Russian entities, Russian oligarchs, I believe it does," Speier said.

A Republican on the House Intelligence Committee shot down Speier's allegations and concerns about money laundering.

"If you're using Glenn Simpson as a source for nearly anything, I look at it with a very skeptical eye," Utah Rep. Chris Stewart said on CNN's "New Day" Friday. "The dossier has proven to be one of the most salacious and unreliable documents that have ever presented before this committee."

In general, while the most salacious allegations in the dossier haven't been verified, its broad assertion that Russia waged a campaign to interfere in the election is now accepted as fact by the US intelligence community. US law enforcement and intelligence officials have said US investigators did their own work, separate from the dossier, to support their findings that Russia tried to meddle in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump. CNN has also reported that US investigators have corroborated some aspects of the dossier, specifically that some of the communications among foreign nationals mentioned in the memos did actually take place.

In response to Speier's comments that there's a "great deal of open source documentation" that backs up her allegations of potential money laundering, Stewart said, "I would invite her to bring it before the committee and let us examine it because we haven't seen that at this point."

Money laundering is not a focus of the House committee's Russia investigation, according to Speier. But she argued that special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Russia probe, is in a position to investigate.

"I can't speak to what the special counsel is doing, but the special counsel has a wide discretion to look at any number of things, so it could very well be part of what he's looking at," Speier said.

CNN has previously reported that the special counsel's investigation had widened to include possible financial crimes unrelated to the 2016 presidential election.

In August, sources told CNN that Mueller's team had reviewed financial records related to the Trump Organization, as well as Trump, his family members and campaign associates. They had examined the list of buyers and shell companies of Trump-branded real estate properties and scrutinized Trump Tower tenants dating back more than several years.

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