Special counsel Robert Mueller has expanded the investigation into Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential election to include President Donald Trump's business dealings.
The investigation is covering a wide range of Trump and his associates' transactions, according to a source who spoke to Bloomberg. The person said that investigators are examining sales of apartments in Trump buildings to Russians, Trump's involvement with Russian associates in a real estate development deal in New York City, the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant held in Moscow, and a Florida condo Trump sold to a Russian oligarch.
"Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the Special counsel," John Dowd, Trump's lawyer, told Bloomberg. "[They] are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed by the United States Code."
Trump himself said that expanding the probe would not be appropriate in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday. A reporter asked Trump whether Mueller looking at finances beyond relations with Russia would "cross a red line," and Trump answered affirmatively.
"I would say yes," he said. "I think that's a violation. Look, this is about Russia."
Trump's critics, however, maintain that the Russia probe requires dipping into various financial questions.
"To understand the roots of the collusion, set aside Putin and follow the money," political author Seva Gunitsky told Vox.
Democrats have also taken an interest in Trump's finances. Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) has led the charge in the House to petition the Treasury Department to disclose financial ties Trump has with Russia.
A money laundering probe started by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in 2016 led to Mueller's interest in Trump's finances, the source said.
Trump fired Bharara in March before prosecutors had presented evidence to a grand jury. However, Bharara's probe has now been consolidated into Mueller's investigation, which encompasses a broad range of issues related to the 2016 campaign.
Investigators are also reportedly interested in White House senior advisor Jared Kushner's efforts to obtain financing for real estate projects. They are also looking into dealings with the Bank of Cyprus, where Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman before serving in the Trump administration.