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Did Robert Mueller just cross Donald Trump's red line on Russia?

Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpo...

Posted: Mar 16, 2018 5:25 AM
Updated: Mar 16, 2018 5:25 AM

Special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for business documents -- some of which are related to Russia, according to The New York Times -- a move that represents the latest evidence that the probe seems to have widened to include far more than simply Russia's attempts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.

The details of the subpoena are not available. That fact makes it hard to know exactly what Mueller is looking for, what it has to do with Russia or the Trump Organization's business in the country and why he needed to subpoena the documents as opposed to simply asking for them.

But what we do know is that President Donald Trump -- and his lawyers -- have warned Mueller against a widening of the probe to include things that happened before Trump became a candidate or having to do with his real estate business.

In an interview with The New York Times in July 2017, Trump was asked whether Mueller looking into his personal finances -- not involving Russia -- would amount to a "red line"-like violation in his mind. Here's how he responded:

"I would say yeah, I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don't -- I don't -- I mean, it's possible there's a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don't make money from Russia."

Because of the lack of specificity regarding the subpoenas, we have no way of knowing if Mueller's latest request directly violates that red line. But whether or not it violates the letter of Trump's red line matters less than whether Trump feels as though Mueller's latest inquiry is a step too far.

Trump has been very clear about his feeling on the Mueller investigation, which he has described as a "witch hunt" and a "hoax." He has also been very, very clear that there has been no collusion between his campaign and the Russians. And that the Justice Department should spend its time looking into allegations against Hillary Clinton rather than wasting time on the Russia investigation.

Asked about the Times report on Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said only "there was no collusion between the Trump campaign Russia." She repeated that same line when asked a similar question about the red line later in the briefing.

Trump attorney Ty Cobb declined a request for comment.

Trump's Twitter feed lay dormant in the immediate aftermath of the Times report on Mueller's latest subpoena. But the context of this week suggests Trump may well be in a firing mood. He parted ways with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- via Twitter(!) -- earlier in the week and made clear more changes would be on the way.

"We're getting very close to having the Cabinet and the other things that I want," Trump said shortly after firing Tillerson.

Sources suggest that national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson are all on thin ice, with some reports detailing specific replacements being considered for each of them. And Trump has made little secret of his displeasure with Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- specifically Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.

On Thursday, Trump pushed back on reports that a staff shakeup was imminent, calling it "exaggerated" and "fake news."

Will Trump take umbrage at Mueller's latest move and use it as an excuse to fire Sessions? Will he go even further, risking political suicide by firing Mueller? Or will he stay cool?

Predicting what Trump does on any subject is next to impossible. Predicting what he will do on the Russia investigation -- which has long been an issue on which Trump reacts more on an emotional level than an intellectual one -- is plain impossible.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111322

Reported Deaths: 3202
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7751171
DeSoto663677
Harrison481181
Jackson431978
Rankin380886
Madison371792
Lee341379
Forrest295177
Jones283182
Washington251497
Lafayette241742
Lauderdale2344130
Lamar214938
Bolivar198075
Oktibbeha194654
Neshoba1806111
Lowndes173962
Panola165136
Leflore160086
Sunflower157449
Warren152154
Monroe144872
Pontotoc143519
Pike136455
Lincoln134854
Copiah134636
Marshall132626
Scott123229
Coahoma123136
Grenada120137
Simpson118148
Yazoo117233
Union113925
Holmes113260
Tate112739
Leake112239
Itawamba109024
Pearl River108256
Adams104342
Prentiss101619
Wayne98521
Alcorn95512
George93517
Marion93242
Covington91625
Tippah85120
Newton84227
Chickasaw82024
Tallahatchie81825
Winston81521
Tishomingo79040
Hancock76927
Attala76525
Clarke71448
Clay67221
Jasper66616
Walthall63327
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith58116
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence49514
Yalobusha48414
Perry48022
Carroll46012
Greene45317
Stone45014
Amite41513
Quitman4136
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39411
Webster36513
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31815
Benton3054
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26310
Franklin2303
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22400372
Mobile14282314
Tuscaloosa9983132
Montgomery9691196
Madison899992
Shelby703560
Lee643966
Baldwin637567
Marshall426748
Calhoun410259
Etowah402049
Morgan394532
Houston363132
DeKalb316727
Elmore309552
St. Clair279742
Limestone269227
Walker268092
Talladega255034
Cullman225823
Lauderdale206340
Autauga199928
Franklin199131
Jackson199114
Colbert190627
Russell19023
Dallas185227
Blount183823
Chilton180531
Escambia170928
Covington164729
Coffee16409
Dale162551
Pike130212
Chambers127343
Tallapoosa127286
Clarke126716
Marion104229
Butler99840
Barbour9819
Marengo96721
Winston89913
Geneva8337
Pickens80317
Randolph79514
Lawrence79230
Bibb78913
Hale74529
Cherokee71514
Clay70712
Lowndes69927
Bullock63517
Henry6316
Monroe6279
Washington62112
Crenshaw59030
Perry5796
Wilcox55712
Conecuh55413
Fayette54712
Macon52919
Cleburne5247
Sumter46421
Lamar4575
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
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