The FBI served subpoenas to leaders of two campaign-related groups tied to the Trump’s election campaign and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as part of a criminal probe into possible violations of campaign finance laws during the 2016 election, a report on Friday said.
FBI agents and prosecutors were seeking documents relating to the groups, according to a source familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter and spoke with NBC News.
Mnuchin’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, told NBC News that the Treasury Secretary has not been contacted by anyone with information related to the issue.
Investigators have been seeking records from Mnuchin’s law firm, but Davis said the Treasury Secretary is not directly involved in the matter.
The legal and financial team of special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating potential connections between Republican operatives during the 2016 election and Russian operatives and whether they laundered funds through U.S. companies and nonprofits for the purpose of election interference.
Investigators have been trying to determine whether money-laundering allegations could link GOP figures and entities to activities in Florida and New York.
The FBI, however, appears to be directing many of its inquiries to outside groups and candidates, such as those working on behalf of President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
It is not clear whether any of the money that was funneled through the outside groups in 2018 was diverted to campaign activities.
The inquiry has grown into a sprawling criminal investigation that encompasses both federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and Mueller’s office, the insider said.
But legal experts said that it was not clear whether investigators were probing information about anyone affiliated with Trump’s campaign, as well as work-related activities of outside groups affiliated with Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
A criminal referral is sent to both the general and politically-sensitive assistant US attorneys in Washington, who decide whether to move forward with a full investigation.
“These investigations could reveal whether the Mueller team is probing internal workings within the Republican Party or looking for connections to crimes that originated on the other side of the aisle,” the insider told NBC News.
A source familiar with the probe also told Fox News that the investigation focuses on “hard-money” contributions to outside groups, not money laundered through those organizations.
The source, who was not authorized to speak publicly, told Fox News that the Federal Election Commission is evaluating whether the outside groups in question violated campaign finance laws.
“It is a very slow moving investigation,” said the source.
If the agency finds the groups may have broken federal laws, it will issue a proposed order ordering the organizations to “correct any violations,” the source added.
According to campaign finance records, PulteGroup Inc. contributed $6 million to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Policies and $1 million to American Future Fund, a super PAC run by Scott Foval, a Missouri-based operative who previously was a longtime communications adviser to the Republican National Committee.
Protesters in Alabama demonstrated outside the state mansion on Friday, saying they were protesting against partisan meddling in races there.
A spokesman for PulteGroup declined to comment on the report.
Nancy Cordes, a spokeswoman for America First Policies, referred the inquiries to a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, who declined to comment.
Michael Yamamoto, a spokesman for the RNC, had no comment on the report.
Last month, Politico reported that Mueller has been looking into claims that Russians ran a ” shadow operation” using cash from the country’s social-media internet campaigns to support Republican candidates in 2016.