This follows his silence when Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was recently poisoned during an attempted murder by Putin’s thugs, and before that by his silent assent to Russia putting bounties on the heads of American troops fighting in Afghanistan.
These disturbing incidents only scratch the surface of Trump’s bizarre enthusiasm for Russian interests over those of his own country. He also encouraged and welcomed Russia’s 2016 assistance to his election campaign. He sided with Putin’s denial of U.S. election interference over the unanimous conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies. He consistently undermined NATO, Putin’s highest foreign policy priority. He revealed classified information to Russia’s ambassador and foreign minister in an Oval Office meeting. He has been a super-spreader of Russian disinformation, the most egregious example being the fiction that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered with the 2016 election. In the eyes of our president, Vladimir Putin can do no wrong.
It needs to be asked whether Trump’s love affair with the Kremlin is mere autocrat-envy, or is there a more sinister explanation? The evidence points to the Russians having some information about him that he is desperate to keep hidden.
It’s likely not something sexual. We have seen time and again that Trump has no shame when it comes to partying with and paying off porn stars and centerfolds or cavorting with the late Jeffrey Epstein’s stable of underage Lolitas, not to mention dissing and dismissing the two dozen women who claim he sexually harassed them or worse.
More likely, it has to do with Trump’s nefarious business activities. Within that context, there is no evidence that Trump’s behavior as eager Putin doormat and chief bootlicker is connected to any Moscow business deals. Trump tried and failed three times (1983, 1987 and 1996) to conclude Russian real estate deals. Money laundering for Kremlin criminals, however, is another matter.
Money laundering is something for which Trump has already been outed and slapped on the wrist, but its extent may go much farther than civil punishment and open him up to serious criminal liability as well.
On March 6, 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) imposed a $10 million civil penalty against the bankrupt Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort for willful and repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) for its lax anti-money laundering controls. Trump’s Atlantic City casino admitted to several BSA violations. FinCEN said that the Trump Taj Mahal “has a long history of prior, repeated BSA violations cited by examiners dating back to 2003.” Earlier, FinCEN assessed a $477,700 civil money penalty against the casino for currency transaction reporting violations.
Trump Taj Mahal admitted that it failed to: report suspicious transactions, file required currency transaction reports, and keep appropriate records. The fine resulted from IRS and Justice Department investigations.
A large number of the alleged casino money launderers were Russians. The Taj Mahal was a magnet for Russian money, including Russian mafia money, says Seth Hettena, an investigative journalist and author of Trump/Russia: A Definitive History.
But this is only one aspect of Trump’s money laundering on behalf of Russians. According to the McClatchy newspapers, people connected to Russia or former Soviet republics paid $109 million in cash for 86 Trump-branded properties, with many of them using shell companies. Some buyers appeared to spend above market value for their properties, a classic money laundering practice. All-cash real estate deals are also a money-laundering red flag. Trump also sold a $41 million Palm Beach estate to a Russian oligarch and close Putin associate for $95 million, much higher than its market value, only four years after buying it. The transaction’s timing came only months after Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy and when Trump was having trouble finding any banks that would lend to him.
Someday we will probably find out just what it was that caused Trump to spend four years advocating for a U.S. adversary intent on subverting our democracy. That could reveal how and why Trump became a Russian asset.
December 28, 2020