Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump looks — and is acting — rattled and encircled by the Russia investigation. And a series of fresh disclosures on Tuesday show there is every reason for him to feel threatened by the vast shadow it is casting over his life, business and presidency.
Newly unsealed court documents detailing special counsel Robert Mueller’s activity reveal an investigative field of breathtaking scope and a prosecutorial machine that ratcheted quickly up in mid-2017.
The search warrants targeting Trump’s ex-personal lawyer Michael Cohen offer a glimpse of the covert world of the probe. As is often the case with Mueller, they give only a tantalizing hint of the wider, yet still hidden, puzzle.
There is enough to explain from Tuesday’s reveal why the investigation must be weighing on Trump’s spirits, and driving his angry Twitter outbursts.
The vast breadth of the investigation by various jurisdictions also could offer a rich seam for Democratic House chairmen should they eventually subpoena primary evidence uncovered by Mueller and other prosecutors.
And the release underlines that various investigations that are penetrating deep into Trump’s business, personal and political life are likely to be haunting the President for years to come — even after Mueller has left the stage.
The pages of warrants make clear that the investigation into whether the Trump Organization is implicated in the campaign finance case involving his hush money payments to women before the 2016 election is still open.
Eighteen-and-a-half blacked-out pages at the end of one document under the title “The Illegal Campaign Contribution Scheme” almost certainly contain details of Trump’s interactions with Cohen.
That prosecutors from the Southern District of New York believe those elements need to be kept out of the public eye suggests that their investigations — which have already indirectly implicated Trump — are not over.
“They are not done. We have seen this in filings over and over again,” Preet Bharara, a former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
So Trump cannot yet be sure whether his family members or top business associates in his firm could face criminal jeopardy.
For the President, who seeks to exert dominance over every room, situation or relationship, the lack of control over the fate of his own clan and the business that bears his name as prosecutors bear down must be close to intolerable.
Some legal observers see the work of the Southern District as Trump’s most perilous legal front, even more so than Mueller’s look at whether there was coordination between Trump campaign aides and Russia and whether the President obstructed justice to cover it up.
While a sitting President cannot be indicted, according to current Justice Department guidance, Trump cannot be certain that he will not be prosecuted for campaign finance violations when he eventually leaves office.
“If I was Donald Trump, I would be scared,” Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, said on CNN’s “The Situation Room.”
The fact that prosecutors have already endorsed Cohen’s statement that he made the payments in violation of campaign finance laws at the direction of Trump means “there may be another shoe to drop,” said Bharara.
“There may be other people who are assisting or who are conspiring, up to and including the President, and they haven’t decided…