The New York Times recently published an article about Robert Mueller requesting Trump's business records. The tone of the piece centered on a possible connection between Russia and the 2016 election. However, there is one problem with this scenario: Trump was a businessman, and as a businessman, he would have been required to work with the Russian Government in some capacity to set up anything in Russia. However, this does not mean that Trump was surreptitiously colluding with Russia to win the 2016 Presidential election.
Trump has admitted in the past that he has spoken with top Russian officials. However, timing is everything in these matters. When Trump spoke with these officials, he was not running for President and he also was running the Miss Universe contest. So any talks between those officials and Trump was likely nothing more than Trump attempting to foster business connections. Additionally, all of Trump's known business dealings with Russia have ended with a negative outcome. His trademark was denied, hotel was not approved, and the only verified success that Trump had with any sort of high profile Russian was when he sold his 95 million dollar Palm Beach oceanfront mansion to a Russian Oligarch in 2005. This is all in the Times piece and does not prove any sort of collusion when you realize that Trump was a businessman who was trying to conduct business or make money.
This brings us to claims by Eric (unverified) and Trump Jr. (verified) that Russian investors were the monetary sources behind a portion of Trump's assets. If this happens to be true, then is still does not prove collusion between Trump and the Russian Government. Like in the US, there are plenty of Russian investors who are not members of the Russian Government. Investors are investors, and to assume that all Russian investors are members of the Russian Government is laughable. Even if these investors have connections in the Russian Government, this does not mean that they are working for the Russian Government, which is an important distinction.
This brings us once again to the question posed in the title. Why does Mueller need all of Trump's business records? Why does he insist that there is some sort of obscure connection between Trump and the Russian Government when Trump's trademark wasn't even approved? Surely if there was any real collusion between the Russian Government and Trump there would be more evidence than declined trademarks, failed hotel deals, and claims of Russian investors. It is a well-established fact that those who are favorable to the Russian Government get approbation for what they want, even if it could potentially break the law. The Heritage Foundation Freedom Index and Human Rights Watch 2018 World Reportreveal the oppressive level of the Russian Government in both everyday life and business proceedings. So if Trump was truly colluding with the Russian Government then wouldn't his past business dealings be successes and not failures?
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Publication date: March 19, 2018