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Mueller subpoenas Deutsche Bank records, sources say

FILE — Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the election, leaves the Capitol in Washington, June 21, 2017. Copyright 2017 Doug Mills/The New York Times

Deutsche Bank was subpeonaed and provided records to special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation as the probe into alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections widens.

Sources told Bloomberg that Mueller issued a subpoena to Germany's largest lender several weeks ago, forcing the bank to submit documents relating to people affiliated with President Donald Trump. Bloomberg initially reported that the subpoena targeted Trump and his family's bank records, but later corrected that report. The initial report had been disputed by Trump's lawyer and the White House.

“We have confirmed that the news reports that the Special Counsel had subpoenaed financial records relating to the president are false. No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources,” Trump’s lawyer John Dowd wrote in an email to Bloomberg on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Agence France-Presse reported that a source said the Deutsche Bank subpoena was linked to Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was indicted earlier this year.

"Deutsche Bank always cooperates with investigating authorities in all countries," the lender said in a statement to Bloomberg Tuesday, declining to provide additional information.

Deutsche Bank for months has rebuffed calls by Democratic lawmakers to provide more transparency over the roughly $300 million Trump owed to the bank for his real estate dealings prior to becoming president. Rep. Maxine Waters of California and other Democrats have asked whether the bank's loans to Trump, made years before he ran for president, were in any way connected to Russia. The bank previously rejected those demands, saying sharing client data would be illegal unless it received a formal request to do so. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

Mueller's investigation -- which is looking into alleged Russian interference into last year's U.S. election and whether Trump's winning campaign assisted in those efforts -- appears to be entering a new phase. Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty Friday to lying to FBI agents, becoming the fourth associate of the president ensnared by Mueller's probe. More significantly, he also is providing details to Mueller about the Trump campaign's approach to Flynn's controversial meeting with a Russian envoy during the presidential transition.

Trump's relationship with Deutsche Bank stretches back some two decades and the roughly $300 million he owed to the bank represented nearly half of his outstanding debt, according to a July 2016 analysis by Bloomberg. That figure includes a $170-million loan Trump took out to finish a hotel in Washington. He also has two mortgages against his Trump National Doral Miami resort and a loan against his tower in Chicago.

Deutsche Bank management is ready to share information about the lender's dealings with Trump and is hopeful that doing so will help end the series of inquiries from Democrats, an executive at the bank, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations, has previously told Bloomberg News.

In July, Trump said in an interview with the New York Times that if Mueller examined his family's finances beyond any relationship with Russia he'd consider it "a violation." Mueller's investigation had expanded to examine a broad range of transactions involving the president's businesses, including dealings by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a person familiar with the probe told Bloomberg News after the publication of the Times interview.

Mueller's team has been interviewing White House aides in recent weeks, including former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former spokesman Sean Spicer and National Security Council chief of staff Keith Kellogg, according to people familiar with the investigation.

As Mueller's investigation unfolds, Trump has gone on the offensive. Over the weekend on Twitter, he attacked the FBI and Mueller's team and defended some of Flynn's actions. In particular, Trump hailed the news that one of Mueller's aides had been removed from his job over the summer for some anti-Trump text messages.

On Monday, as he left the White House for a trip to Utah, Trump restated his sympathy for Flynn and his assertion that prosecutors should have pursued action against his general election rival, Hillary Clinton.

This story was updated after more information became available Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2017.

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