[WASHINGTON, DC] – In response to widespread reports – including an investigation by ABC News – into how President-elect Donald Trump’s financial interests in the Trump Organization will expose our government to unprecedented conflicts of interest, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to appoint a Special Counsel to oversee the Department of Justice’s investigation into Deutsche Bank’s role in the 2008 financial crisis and potential wrongdoing in a multi-billion-dollar offshore trading and money laundering scheme. The Trump Organization obtained $364 million in loans from Deutsche Bank to finance a number of properties, including a hotel operating with a lease of government land in Washington, DC.
“The credibility of the Department of Justice’s investigation into wrongdoing by Deutsche Bank will be completely undermined, and our criminal justice system could be severely diminished, by the President-elect’s obvious conflict of interest in this case. What’s needed here is clearly an independent Special Counsel, without any connection to an Attorney General who likely will be someone who is a personal confidant and campaign surrogate for Donald Trump. We have had no assurance that a Trump Administration will seek out the penalties against Deutsche Bank that are in the country’s best interest – rather than more favorable terms because of the bank’s ties to his business empire,” Blumenthal said. “An independent Special Counsel is critically necessary to maintain the credibility and impartiality of an investigation, which should pursue significant monetary penalties and other civil sanctions along with potential criminal prosecution against both the bank and individuals who are culpable. As a matter of appearance as well as reality, avoiding an egregious conflict of interest means that the federal investigation must be severed completely and clearly from the President-elect and his possible influence.”
Blumenthal requested the appointment of a Special Counsel today in a letter to Attorney General Lynch that detailed the Department of Justice’s two pending investigations of Deutsche Bank and the potential conflict of interest if President-elect Trump continues to refuse to sever the connection between himself and the Trump Organization, which is deeply indebted to Deutsche Bank
The full text of today’s letter is available here and copied below.
November 25, 2016
The Honorable Loretta Lynch
United States Attorney General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Lynch,
I am deeply concerned that President-elect Donald Trump’s financial interests will present an unprecedented conflict of interest regarding the ongoing investigation of Deutsche Bank by the Department of Justice (DOJ). To maintain the American people’s confidence in the credibility and impartiality of DOJ going forward, I urge you immediately to appoint an independent Special Counsel to oversee your Department’s two pending investigations of Deutsche Bank.
President-elect Trump has refused to sever his connection with the Trump Organization, which is deeply indebted to Deutsche Bank. The Trump Organization obtained $364 million in loans from Deutsche Bank to finance a number of properties, including a hotel operating with a lease of government land in Washington, DC. At the same time, the Department of Justice is conducting two active investigations of the Bank: one for potential wrongdoing in a multi-billion-dollar offshore trading and money laundering scheme, and another regarding lending practices that contributed to the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. At the very least, this raises the potential for the appearance of a severe conflict of interest – denying American taxpayers assurance that a Trump administration will seek out the penalties against Deutsche Bank that are in the country’s best interest, rather than terms based on the bank’s ties to the President-elect’s business empire.
Federal regulations provide you with the authority to appoint a Special Counsel to handle a criminal investigation if you determine that continued DOJ oversight of the matter “would present a conflict of interest for the Department or other extraordinary circumstances” and that the appointment would be “in the public interest.” 28 C.F.R 600.1. The conflict presented by the incoming Administration’s business ties to Deutsche Bank – unparalleled in our country’s history – is just such an extraordinary circumstance, and ensuring the continued, unbiased pursuit of justice in this matter is manifestly in the public interest.
Under your leadership, our nation has led the world in bringing to justice those who use their official positions of power to engage in corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion. I believe that the appointment of a Special Counsel is vital to protecting this legacy, and I thank you for your consideration of this request
United States Senate