Special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly investigating President Trump’s personal business dealing with Russia, potentially crossing a red line that Mr. Trump had drawn.
Citing “three people familiar with the matter,” CNN reported Tuesday evening that Mr. Mueller had been asking witnesses about Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia even before he announced his campaign for president.
The subjects, according to two of the sources, included “the timing of Trump’s decision to seek the presidency, potentially compromising information the Russians may have had about him, and why efforts to brand a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through,” CNN wrote.
Some of the sources cautioned that it wasn’t obvious from the line of questioning what Mr. Mueller may have, or thinks he has, about possible wrongdoing by the then-tycoon.
“You ask everything even if you don’t think it’s credible,” one of the sources told CNN. “The allegations are out there, and it was checking the box.”
But in an interview with The New York Times last July, Mr. Trump was asked by reporter Michael S. Schmidt that if “Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?” and by reporter Maggie Haberman “Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?”
Mr. Trump replied, “I would say yeah. I would say yes.”
He then parried a question on whether crossing that red line would cause him to fire Mr. Mueller: “I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
What one of CNN’s sources described to the network as “potentially compromising information the Russians may have had” on Mr. Trump dovetails with another of Mr. Trump’s criticisms of the Russia probe — the Steele dossier.
The unverified listing by British ex-spy Christopher Steele of dirt about Mr. Trump — some of it extremely salacious — was paid for by the Democrats and used to get a secret warrant to spy on a Trump campaign aide.
Its provenance, bawdiness and rumormongering has been cited by Mr. Trump and some other Republicans as showing that the Russia collusion story is “fake news” or worse.