NBC Hopes Special Counsel Subpoenas Trump Tax Returns

On Thursday’s NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer and former Obama administration official Jeremy Bash urged newly named Special Counsel Robert Mueller to use his investigative power to go on a fishing expedition to take down President Trump. Specifically, Lauer hoped the former FBI Director would demand to see Trump’s tax returns – documents the liberal media have long been desperate to examine.

Bash was giddy as he touted how Mueller “has a very broad mandate” and “can investigate not just ties between Russia and Trump, but ‘any other matters that arise.’” He concluded: “That’s a very expansive phrase...that gives him a broad mandate to investigate obstruction of justice and other matters.”

Lauer eagerly seized on his comments: “Well, that’s a really important point also, Jeremy. Do you think, as part of this investigation, he might subpoena Donald Trump’s tax returns?” Bash predicted: “I think he will subpoena not just tax returns, but any banking or financial records that show connections between the Trump organization and Russian officials, whether in the Putin government or in the private sector. I think that’s an elemental evidentiary issue in this case.”

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At the top of the panel discussion, Lauer turned to MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace and gloated over the appointment of Mueller being a setback for the White House: “...this appointment of a special counsel happened on the 119th day of this administration. A lot of those days have been very rocky. If you’re the President or you’re a surrogate, how do you put the best face on what is happening right now?”

Wallace asserted: “Listen, everything I know from Trump confidantes inside the White House and outside the office is that this White House staff has gone from tense to something a little more dire in the last 72 hours.” However, she also saw a benefit for the President in the independent investigation: “And to be able to turn this whole sort of case file over to someone who is trusted by both sides is in some ways the first opportunity the White House has to begin to turn the page on this story.”

Here is a full transcript of the May 18 segment:

7:10 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Let’s bring in our NBC News analyst Nicolle Wallace, hosts Deadline: White House on MSNBC. Jeremy Bash, formerly served as chief of staff for both the Defense Department and the CIA. Good morning to both of you.

JEREMY BASH: Good morning, Matt.

LAUER: Nicolle, we’ll talk about Robert Mueller in a second, but this appointment of a special counsel happened on the 119th day of this administration. A lot of those days have been very rocky. If you’re the President or you’re a surrogate, how do you put the best face on what is happening right now?

NICOLLE WALLACE: Listen, everything I know from Trump confidantes inside the White House and outside the office is that this White House staff has gone from tense to something a little more dire in the last 72 hours. And I think at some level – and I’ve heard Jeremy describe this as a darker cloud over the White House – that this is sort of when people call it “lawyering up,” people retain private counsel to protect their equities. Everyone, including the President, may be in that situation. But I think in some ways, in terms of being able to turn this over to someone who – Bob Mueller is a national treasure. And to be able to turn this whole sort of case file over to someone who is trusted by both sides is in some ways the first opportunity the White House has to begin to turn the page on this story.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And to you, Jeremy, about Director Mueller, we here Pete [Williams] talking about this issue of independence. Yes, he still answers to the Deputy Attorney General. Is there any question in your mind that Bob Mueller will be able to conduct this investigation independently and go wherever it leads him?

BASH: No question at all. I know Bob Mueller, I've worked with him and his team in the past. He is fearless but fair. He’s the triple threat, he’s got independence, credibility, and the experience to not only lead the case agents, the FBI agents who are running this matter already, but he also, under the Rosenstein order, has a very broad mandate. There’s no time limit set on it. He can investigate not just ties between Russia and Trump, but “any other matters that arise.” That’s a very expansive phrase, Savannah, as you know as an attorney, that gives him a broad mandate to investigate obstruction of justice and other matters.

LAUER: Well, that’s a really important point also, Jeremy. Do you think, as part of this investigation, he might subpoena Donald Trump’s tax returns? And secondly, can he control leaks? Because leaks coming out of an investigation can undermine the credibility of the person conducting that investigation.

BASH: I think he will subpoena not just tax returns, but any banking or financial records that show connections between the Trump organization and Russian officials, whether in the Putin government or in the private sector. I think that’s an elemental evidentiary issue in this case. I think he will be able to control leaks. He’s shown he’s been able do that in the past.

GUTHRIE: And let me turn to you, Nicolle. I mean, the reaction from the White House and the President himself is notably measured. He released a statement, we haven’t seen a tweet on this. Do you think the message has gotten through to him that not only does what he say carry political significance, that in this context, potentially it carries legal significance as well.

WALLACE: I think the message started to get through to him early yesterday. I know that was the effort underway at the highest levels of the White House, again inside and out. They were trying to make clear to him that this question that hangs over him is going to prevent him from doing anything else he wants to do on a legislative agenda, on the world stage, or anything else he wants to communicate will be impossible until he starts to lift this cloud and these questions.

GUTHRIE: Alright, Nicolle and Jeremy, thank you so much. And Nicolle, show plug, we will have more on MSNBC, 4 p.m., Deadline: White House. Check it out.

WALLACE: Thank you, guys.

LAUER: Congrats on the new show.

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