Breitbart News Senior Editor at Large Peter Schweizer, president of the Government Accountability Institute, joined Tuesday’s Breitbart News Daily to discuss independent counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.
Schweizer said he has supported independent counsel investigations in the past because some situations require an investigator who is “not attached to the political figures” involved, but this double-edged sword of independence makes it possible for independent counsels to “wander from their initial mandate.”
“It’s very possible that that is happening under Mueller,” he said. “This is an investigation that was supposed to be really focused primarily on the issue of interference in the election, alleged collaboration, et cetera. There does not seem to be any additional evidence that’s come forward on that, but based on the press accounts, it seems to increasingly be morphing into an investigation involving issues related to money laundering.”
Schweizer elaborated that by “money laundering” he means that “in New York real estate, there has been a problem for years of people from Russia, but also from China, buying real estate in New York as a means to basically ferret money out of their country and to launder it.”
“You take money, you run it through a series of offshore accounts, you buy real estate in New York. It’s a hard asset. You hide it under an LLC, and nobody really knows whose it is and where it came from,” he explained. “There’s no question, I think, that any major real estate operator in New York has had a problem with this.”
“That seems to be where the investigation is going now. I think the problem with firing Mueller is it leads to more questions that have been related to the way, frankly, that Jared Kushner has mishandled some of the things that have come up. It just leads to suspicions that you’re hiding something, even if maybe you’re not – the fact that you are misstating things, or omitting meetings, you’re failing to disclose in your finances certain financial relationships,” he said.
“We’ve reached a point where I think at least some people believe that there’s an effort on the part of Kushner, perhaps on others, to hide certain things,” said Schweizer.
Schweizer agreed with Marlow that Mueller’s wide-ranging investigation is likely to come up with something Trump’s adversaries and the media can focus on.
“In the context of the attacks on Mueller, he does not want to look like he’s been cowed, that he’s somehow been beaten into submission,” Schweizer observed. “So the fact that he has been the subject of all kinds of attacks, I think even further pushes to the point where he’s got to come up with something.”
“If you look at the people that he has brought on board – of course, lots of questions have been raised about the legal work done for the Clinton Foundation and others with some of the attorneys – but if you look at their area of expertise and the cases they’ve worked on, what you find, Alex, is that several of them, for example, worked on a very interesting money laundering case involving Deutsche Bank,” he told Marlow.
“Basically what was happening was, roughly $10 billion was being ferreted out of Russia in what are called ‘mirror trades,’” he explained. “They would buy stock in, say, Deutsche Bank in Moscow, from the Moscow office of Deutsche Bank, and they would sell them from the London office of Deutsche Bank and put them into an offshore account, and then those offshore accounts, the money would be sent to buy real estate, et cetera.”
“A lot of that money ended up in New York, and some of the individuals that were involved in that case who bought real estate were involved in financial investments,” Schweizer continued. “For example, there’s a guy named Lev Leviev who is a billionaire, lives in Israel, and he’s got Russian and Israeli citizenship. Very good friends with Putin, he’s been friends with Putin since 1999 at least, before Putin even became president. Well, Leviev did real estate transactions with Jared Kushner, and some of the prosecutors on Mueller’s team worked on that case.”
“In addition to that, Alex, we have the press account that of course they are now trying to get Paul Manafort to come and testify for them, the counsel, and what are they looking at charging him with as far as leverage? Money laundering,” he noted.
“So you’re seeing the case go in these directions. These are crimes that have been committed, but the challenge and the question is, is it really related to the mandate to begin with, which was to look at the election? That, I think, is probably a stretch,” said Schweizer.
Marlow suggested the media ineptly focused on Donald Trump Jr. during the frenzy over his meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, when they should have paid more attention to Kushner, the only participant in that meeting who is still directly involved with the Trump White House.
“I think what’s happened is, you have a lot of journalists – not all of them, there are a few good ones out there – but a lot of them got so emotionally invested in this story because of their dislike for Trump, or their dislike of Trump’s style, or their belief that there was this sort of Russian initiative, they got so so emotionally invested in the story that they couldn’t help themselves,” Schweizer replied. “They would get excited at every slight turn in the story. Once you become emotionally invested in something like that, you lose a sense of proportion and you lose a sense of balance.”
He suggested the proper proportional view is to understand that “anybody at national level politics, Republican or Democrat, who’s honest is going to tell you that there are foreign entities circling all the time that have a big stake in who wins and who loses an election.”
“In the 2008 election, I mean, I can find you quotes from Russian officials saying that their choice in 2008 was Hillary Clinton,” he said. “She lost in the primary, but that’s who they said that they wanted. This goes back historically, the ‘96 election involving Chinese meddling there. This is something that happens.”
“I think the problem with this emotional investment, Alex, is they turned it into this sort of thriller-film plot where the facts never lined up with what their expectations were, and when the facts didn’t line up, they just kept repeating sort of the same mantra,” Schweizer said. “Now they’re at a point where they’ve staked out this position of what they say and believe happened, and the facts aren’t really supporting it, and they’re not quite sure what to do. They’ve boxed themselves into a corner.”
“That said, and I’ve said this before, taking a meeting as Don Jr. did with somebody that sends you an email like that, more than anything is just stupid,” he added. “You’ve always got to be wary when you’re a person in power, and you’re running for office. Lots of people are going to be throwing and promising things your way, and it’s just not a good idea to sit down with people who are promising that kind of stuff so openly, so overtly, in a manner that can create lots of problems for you.”
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