House Democrats zero in on Deutsche Bank

House Democrats zero in on Deutsche Bank
From Deutsche Bank via CNN

House Democrats gearing up for fresh investigations into President Donald Trump’s businesses and money laundering involving Russia are setting their sights on the German lender Deutsche Bank.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said his committee would be working alongside House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters to probe the bank, a major lender to the Trump Organization. Both chairs had previously signaled interest in Deutsche Bank while they were still in the House minority.

A person briefed on the outreach said it was recent and characterized it as “initial discussions” between the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees and Deutsche Bank.

Deutsche Bank has been of interest to lawmakers because it is one of the few big banks that has been willing to lend to the Trump Organization. Trump businesses have borrowed over $300 million for a Florida golf course and hotels in Chicago and Washington, according to financial disclosures and public filings from 2012 to 2015.

Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has also disclosed an unsecured line of credit from the bank ranging between $5 million to $25 million that he’s shared with his mother since 2015.

In a statement about the congressional probes, Deutsche Bank said: “Deutsche Bank is engaged in a productive dialogue with the House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees to determine the best way of assisting them in their official oversight functions. We remain committed to providing appropriate information.”

Schiff and Waters issued a joint statement Thursday saying: “The House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees are engaged in productive discussions with Deutsche Bank, and look forward to continued cooperation.”

Schiff has signaled he plans to take action, such as requesting documents, soon after the committee is formally organized for the new congressional session, which is expected to happen next week.

He said that the two committees would work together on some areas but could operate separately on issues that more closely aligned with one committee’s jurisdiction or the other.

“We’re going to work very closely together. We have a definite areas of common interest we’ll work on jointly. There may be some areas where Financial Services has a unique interest, and we do,” Schiff said.

Schiff has said that Deutsche Bank is relevant because there are “serious and credible allegations the Russians may possess financial leverage over the president, including perhaps the laundering of Russian money through his businesses.”

Waters, as top Democrat on the Financial Services Committee last year, already asked Deutsche Bank for information about a $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme that the bank paid over $600 million to settle with state and federal regulators.

Deutsche Bank largely ignored Waters’ requests for documents at that time. Now she’s chairwoman — a perch that comes with subpoena power.

But the new ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, also says he backs further investigation of Deutsche Bank.

McHenry sent a letter to Deutsche Bank CEO Christian Sewing on Thursday initiating his own investigation into the bank’s anti-money laundering operations, including with Russia.

“It is critically important for the American public to have confidence Deutsche Bank is adequately addressing the vulnerabilities that allowed billions of dollars tied to criminal activities to move through the international banking system,” McHenry wrote.

In response to McHenry’s letter, the bank said in a statement: “We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations.”