Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators are reportedly looking into allegations of possible Russian blackmail or “kompromat” over Donald Trump from his prior business dealings and work in Moscow during the Miss America Pageant. Notably, he is also exploring when Trump started to consider his run for President and whether such plans may have started as earlier as 2014 — around the time of the formation of the Russian election operation. Other reports indicate that Mueller is pursuing inquiries into Trump knowledge or relationship with Wikileaks and when he first became aware of the hacking of emails.
I have previously written that the financial investigations likely hold the greatest danger (with false statement charges) for Trump. This story, which is appearing in various outlets, would indicate that the Special Counsel is drilling down on the most salacious aspect of the Steele Dossier and the suggestion that the Russians had compromising information on Trump stemming from the pageant and work in Moscow.
Notably, Trump’s counterpart in the Tower project was Aras Agalarov and his son Emin Agalarov who worked with him to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow in 2013. Those names should ring a bell for those following the current investigations. Emin is a musician who worked with publicist Rob Goldstone. It was Goldstone that arranged the infamous meeting in Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer to receive alleged evidence of illegal contributions to the Clinton Foundation.
This inquiry could ultimately reflect an investigation that is compelled to address the dossier and lingering allegations of blackmail by the Russians. However, it also reflects the broader array of issues not only for the investigation but any potential interview for Trump. It would be unlikely however that Mueller would question Trump on such allegations without support beyond the Steele dossier alone.
The specific crime in Kompromat would be blackmail on the part of Russian actors or fraudulent transactions that are part of an overall Kompromat scheme. Once again, we have no support for the dossier allegation and proving such a crime can be extremely difficult. Other presidents have been accused of having compromising relationships like John F. Kennedy that were known to third parties from foreign intelligence to the mob. Absent some clear evidence of a criminal scheme, such evidence however could also appear in a report to Congress by the Special Counsel, though it is unlikely without more substantive foundation than the dossier alone.