Mueller likely to probe Trump finances

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's growing anxiety about the federal Russia probe has spilled into public view with his warning special counsel Robert Mueller would be out of bounds if he dug into the Trump family's finances.

But that's a line Mueller seems sure to cross.

Several of Trump's family members and close advisers already have become ensnared in the investigations, including son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Probing the family's sprawling business ties would bring an investigation the president has called a partisan "witch hunt" even closer to the Oval Office.

Trump told The New York Times it would be a "violation" of Mueller's formal charge if he looked into the president's personal finances.

That comment came amid news reports the special counsel is interested in Trump's business transactions with Russians and with one of his main lenders, Deutsche Bank.

In the same interview with the Times, Trump also lashed out at Attorney General Jeff Sessions; James Comey, the FBI director he fired; Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director who replaced Comey; and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who appointed the special counsel.

The president's comments were a reminder of Trump's willingness to target his own appointees and blur lines that traditionally have existed between the White House and Justice Department investigations.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Thursday that Trump had no intention of firing Mueller "at this time," but she did not rule out doing so in the future.

She also reiterated Trump's concern about the scope of Mueller's investigation, saying it "should stay in the confines of meddling, Russia meddling and the election and nothing beyond that."

California Rep. Adam Schiff, top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Mueller has the authority to investigate any ties the Trump family has to Russia, "including financial, and anything that arises. That is his duty."

William Jeffress, a longtime defense attorney at Baker Botts who represented former President Richard Nixon, said Mueller's inquiry almost certainly will involve examining financial information as he looks for any connections between Trump associates and Russia. And he said Trump's threats toward Mueller aren't helping his case.

"If I were his lawyer, I would be telling him to dial it down," Jeffress said.

The White House push against the special counsel's probe comes as the outlines of the investigation are beginning to become clearer.

Bloomberg reported Thursday that Mueller's investigators are looking into Trump business transactions with Russians including apartment purchases in his buildings, a controversial New York development project, the multimillion-dollar sale of a Florida home and the 2013 Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow.

The Times also reported federal investigators have been in talks with Deutsche Bank about obtaining records related to his finances, and the bank expects it will have to provide information to Mueller.