We're beginning to notice a pattern here...

For the second time in the span of a week, the New York Times is once again rebutting reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging probe into malfeasance by President Trump and his associates is finally winding down.

This time, a report from Politico published earlier today claimed that Trump's lawyers were nearing an agreement on a sit-down with Mueller...

But barely six hours later, NYT reported that Mueller has subpoenaed records from the Trump Organization pertaining to Russia. The request is clearly intended to gather more information about Trump Tower Moscow, which has reportedly become a focus of the Mueller probe. As the Times explains that "The subpoena is the latest indication that the investigation, which Mr. Trump’s lawyers once regularly assured him would be completed by now, will drag on for at least several more months."


As a reminder, the Moscow deal initially caught Mueller's attention when he learned that Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen had reached out to a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin to inquire about getting the necessary permissions to restart the project, which had stalled.

The Trump Organization has said that it never had real estate holdings in Russia, but witnesses recently interviewed by Mr. Mueller have been asked about a possible real estate deal in Moscow. In 2015, a longtime business associate of Mr. Trump’s emailed Mr. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen at his Trump Organization account claiming he had ties to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and said that building a Trump Tower in Moscow would help Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

Mr. Trump signed a nonbinding “letter of intent” for the project in 2015 and discussed it three times with Mr. Cohen.

Wary of the risks that his tax return might become part of the investigation, Trump publicly warned Mueller during an interview in July that his family's finances should be off limits to the Mueller probe.

...However, it appears that ship has sailed.

Mr. Mueller could run afoul of a red line the president has warned him not to cross. Though it is not clear how much of the subpoena is related to Mr. Trump’s business beyond ties to Russia, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The New York Times in July that the special counsel would be crossing a “red line” if he looked into his family’s finances beyond any relationship with Russia. The president declined to say how he would respond if he concluded that the special counsel had crossed that line.

While Congressional investigators have demanded documents from the Trump Organization, this is the first time Mueller has done so. The request suggests that Mueller is once again zeroing in on Trump's finances, and the finances of his associates (and you know what that means)...

The Times added that Trump's lawyers are still negotiating with Mueller's team about the parameters of a possible sit-down (or written) interview. Trump recently brought on another Washington lawyer to join the team of lawyers who are handling the Mueller probe.

As far as we know, Mueller's probe isn't focusing on collusion so much as it's focusing on Trump's and his family's (i.e. Kushner's) business ties with Russia and other foreign powers like the United Arab Emirates. Obstruction of justice has also been bandied about, but given that former FBI Director James Comey has already declared during a Congressional hearing that the president didn't obstruct justice, it might be difficult to convince a jury otherwise. And the notion that the Trump campaign was in direct contact with Putin - and furthermore that their partnership (which didn't exist) had a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election - has also been discounted...

...That leaves Trump's incredibly complex and murky financial history. Financial misdeeds proved to be Paul Manafort's undoing - but then again, he had already been on the FBI's radar before he even met Trump.

Stocks erased most of their earlier gains on the news...