Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller Teaming Up With The New York Attorney General Could Be Scary For Trump

Robert Mueller’s special counsel team has formed an alliance with the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The powerful team will be investigating Paul Manafort’s financial transactions, including potential money laundering charges. In a word: Yikes.

Going deeper into the complicated situation surrounding Paul Manafort and his “alleged” involvement with Russia, Mueller is allegedly investigating President Donald Trump's controversial former-campaign chairman because he had written down the term “donations” during a meeting between Russian officials and Trump's campaign reps (including Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner) in June 2016, as the Washington Post noted

According to Politico, Mueller’s and Schneiderman’s associates have information regarding Manafort’s alleged financial crimes. Seeing as Manafort was Trump’s former campaign chairman, any charges found against Manafort could possibly implicate other members of the Trump campaign and administration in some less-than-savory situations. Guilty by association, right? Granted, we don't know if Manafort engaged in any illegal behaviors (or much of anything) just yet.

However, as NBC News mentions, again,  Manafort's notes from the Trump Tower meeting with Russians did include the term “donations.” As the meeting was held during 2016 presidential campaign, depending on the context, these “donations” could be anything but innocent. After all, it is illegal for non-Americans to contribute funds to a United States election.

One point about the duo of Schneiderman and Mueller that has caught a lot of attention: The fact that it introduces potential charges on the state-level. While President Trump flexed his pardoning powers late last week in his decision to pardon his loyal ally former-Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the inclusion of Schneiderman (and any New York State legal woes that follow) could leave Trump without the power to pardon Manafort (or anyone related to any alleged wrong-doing, including himself) because his pardoning power only extends to federal crimes. (Isn't the constitution fun?) 

As partner at Thompson Coburn, Renato Mariotti, explained to Vox, “If I represented Paul Manafort, I would conclude that my client has significant criminal liability,” which essentially translates to water is wet. While Manafort doesn't have any proven charges against him, the allegations stacked up against him seem pretty hefty. 

However, a spokesperson for Manafort straight-up denied the allegations in an interview with NBC News.

 “It is 100 percent false to suggest this meeting included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party," Jason Maloni, Manafort’s spokesperson, said. "Mr. Manafort provided the Senate Intelligence Committee with the facts and his notes so this speculation and conjecture is pointless and wrong."

As more and more is revealed about this controversial June 2016 meeting, Mueller’s team clearly isn’t convinced that Manafort was “100 percent” innocent of these allegations. (And TBH, we don’t blame them.)