Never mind the US$750 Comrade Trump is said to have paid in taxes. Sure, that’s infuriating — but it’s not (or shouldn’t be) the the main story. The main story is the hundreds of millions of dollars of debt. The debt that’s coming due in the next few years. The main story is this: to whom does he owe that money? From where did the cash come, the cash that allowed Trump to buy golf courses and build more hotels and condominium towers?
We know that in the mid-1980s Russian organized crime figures (and remember, there’s little to distinguish between Russian organized crime, Russian banking systems, and Russian intelligence services) began to launder money through Trump real estate. We know that because several federal prosecutions came out of it and a number of condos in Trump Tower were seized by the government.
We know that by the early-to-mid-1990s, the Trump Organization was deeply in debt. We know the Trump Plaza Hotel, Trump Regency Hotel, and Trump Castle Casino were all losing money. We also know the hotel and entertainment industries are attractive ways to launder money. We know that by 1995, US banks began to refuse loans to Trump because he was a bad risk. We also know that Trump turned to foreign banks and entities for help. First to Deutsche Bank and a few year later to the Bayrock Group. Deutsche Bank has a long history of working with Russian organized crime; they were caught in a $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme and had to pay fines of about $630 million. Bayrock was formed by a former Soviet official from Kazakhstan. Trump’s main contact in Bayrock was Felix Sater; in 1998 Sater pleaded guilty to a $40 million stock fraud scheme run by Russian organized crime.
We know that throughout the 90s and into the 2000s Russian oligarchs (again, remember, you don’t become an oligarch without being indebted to Putin) and organized crime figures working for Semion Mogilevich (the head of an international Russian organized crime cartel) continued to buy more than 65 Trump properties in New York, Florida, and Arizona. We know the Russian state-owned bank Vnesheconombank helped Trump finance a struggling Trump-branded hotel in Toronto. We know that in 2008 Trump sold a Florida mansion to Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million, twice what Trump paid for it four years earlier. Ryboloblev has been indicted in Monaco on criminal charges of corruption, influence trafficking, and something called ”violation of secrets of a criminal investigation.” He was also implicated in the murder of a business rival, Evgeny Panteleymonov. However, the charge was eventually dismissed after a witness suddenly recanted his testimony.
We know another associate of Semion Mogilevich, Vyacheslav Ivankov (a vory v zakone with ties to Russian intelligence services) was a frequent guest at Trump’s Taj Mahal casino. According to the FBI, Ivankov was often comped “for up to $100,000 a visit for free food, rooms, champagne, entertainment, and transportation in stretch limos and helicopters” by the casino. Casinos, of course, are attractive sites for money laundering. The Taj Mahal casino was fined for violating anti-money laundering rules 106 times in its first year and a half of operation. Ivankov had been hiding out in Trump Tower for months before being arrested by the FBI and charged with extorting $2.7 million. When arrested, he had seven different passports under different names and countries. After serving a prison sentence in the US, Ivankov returned to Russia and was eventually murdered by a rival organized crime cartel.
We know the daughter of Viktor Khrapunov, the former governor of the East Kazakhstan Province, bought three Trump SoHo condos. We know Khrapunov has also been accused of a number of construction and real estate frauds, as well as money laundering. The $3.1 million purchase of the Trump condos was allegedly made with money stolen from the government of Kazakhstan. Khrapunov has financial ties with Bayrock. In 2008 Khrapunov chartered a Russian Tupolev Tu-154 and flew to Geneva, Switzerland with 18 tons of cargo, which reputedly included antiques, jewelry, works of art and other highly valuable items. Interpol has issued a red notice for the arrest of Khrapunov.
We know Eric Trump told James Dodson, a golf reporter, that the Trump Organization was able to expand their property holdings because “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.” Golf courses, by the way, are also popular with money launderers. Trump own 17 golf courses, both in the US and abroad.
We know…well, you get the picture. Over the last three decades Trump has had a LOT of financial support from Russian oligarchs, Russian banks (and banks from former Soviet Republics), and Russian organized crime. And once again, it’s impossible to distinguish between Russian organized crime, Russian banking, and Russian state intelligence services.
That Trump only paid $750 in taxes for a couple of years may be an outrage, but the more serious problem is his financial debt. That amount of debt is a clear security concern. It’s impossible to get a security clearance with significant debt (which may be the reason neither Ivanka nor Jared Kushner weren’t given security clearances until Trump insisted on it). We don’t know who floated Trump the money to make the purchases of his golf courses and hotels and condos. It’s reasonable to suspect much (or most or all) of it came from sources connected with Russia.
As I’ve said here, and here, and here, and here, and probably elsewhere, I think Putin has something on Trump. I think Trump is in Putin’s pocket. I think Trump is compromised and that explains why he so often seems to be furthering Russian interests and ignoring the interests of the United States.