Showing posts with label Trump-Corruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trump-Corruption. Show all posts

November 30, 2018

A Mueller Witness Says Stone Told Him About Trump's Crimes and KINKY 👀Sexual Behavior

 

 
  • Robert Mueller witness, Randy Credico, claims on Twitter that Roger Stone told him of ‘depraved sexual behavior’ and ‘venal economic crimes’ on the part of President Trump.
  • Roger Stone attacks Credico on Instagram.
  • Soon after making these claims Credico’s Twitter account vanishes.
  • Credico tells HillReporter that the tweets were  “all a joke” and that he’s tired of Roger Stone “f*cking with” him.
As Robert Mueller makes his way through dozens of witnesses in his probe of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, some rather interesting characters appear to be coming out of the woodwork.
Besides Roger Stone, who is infamous for his wild and often unethical style of politics, a man named Randy Credico has been another intriguing person of interest for Mr, Mueller. Credico, who has been described as an associate of Stone for many years, was involved in a text message exchange with Mr. Stone in 2016 which has caught the interest of both Mueller and members of the House Intelligence Committee.
These text messages indicated that Stone was seeking a presidential pardon for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. Additionally Roger Stone himself testified before the House Intelligence Committee that Credico was an intermediary between himself and Wikileaks, and that Credico had informed him of Wikileaks’ Clinton email release prior to the emails actually being released.  While Credico exercised his 5th Amendment right before the House Committee, in August of this year his attorneys announced that Mueller had subpoenaed him as well. This is what makes last night’s tweets so much more intriguing. 
Shortly after making these tweets Credico made another interesting tweet simply stating: “This is the kind of shit I’ve had to put up with for the last 14 months because of stone.. might explain it all”. The tweet then included the following image of a reply Stone posted to an Instagram photo of Credico, calling him “human scum serial liar and psycho’ 
To make matters even more interesting, while HillReporter began writing this story, Credico’s entire Twitter account was deleted. 
Considering the fact that Credico is now a witness in the Mueller probe, and that he posted a clear message to the president saying that he knows about both his ‘economic crimes’ and deviant ‘sexual behavior’, it makes the whole Randy Credico angle to this investigation even more interesting. Could Credico have tipped Mueller off to these crimes which he feels are “enough to put [Trump] in prison… for the rest of [his] life,” or is he simply trying to be an agitator?
Hill Reporter reached out to Credico this morning asking him about the tweets and why his account was deleted.  He told us:
“They’re all a joke, they’re all a joke, I closed that account down. 

After a year and a half of Roger Stone f*cking with my head, lying about me,

putting up stuff, me being a drunk and all of that, it was just like a taste of his own medicine.”
Credico then went on to tell us that Stone’s behavior has taken a toll on him, saying “The latest, where he was trying to get this guy to write a story about me — Corsi — to cover his ass, I went through a year of all of this.  It had a psychological toll on me.  He put out pictures of me in a swimming pool, half naked, calling me a drug addict and alcoholic and all of that.”
We also asked Credico whether he was still in talks with the special counsel’s office.  He referred us to his attorney but did claim that “Trump’s name never came up,” during his talks with Mueller’s team. One of my final questions to Credico this morning was whether or not he believes an indictment of Stone is coming.  His reply was brief: “I really don’t know. I can only recommend that he get himself the 12-step program to come to grips with whatever is eating him up inside,” suggesting that Stone has an alcohol problem. Credico’s Twitter account, which was deleted only minutes before the publication of this story, had been active for more than 8 years and had over 30,000 tweets to its credit.

November 21, 2018

Not Knowing Where The Limits of Presidential Power Are Trump Wanted to Prosecute His Political Adversaries {Did Putin Give him that idea?}





 
President Donald Trump told his counsel’s office last spring that he wanted to prosecute political adversaries Hillary Clinton and former FBI Director James Comey, an idea that prompted White House lawyers to prepare a memo warning of consequences ranging up to possible impeachment, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Then-counsel Don McGahn told the president he had no authority to order such a prosecution, and he had White House lawyers prepare the memo arguing against such a move, The Associated Press confirmed with a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the situation. McGahn said that Trump could request such a probe but that even asking could lead to accusations of abuse of power, the newspaper said. 

Presidents typically go out of their way to avoid any appearance of exerting influence over Justice Department investigations.

Trump has continued to privately discuss the matter of prosecuting his longtime adversaries, including talk of a new special counsel to investigate both Clinton and Comey, the newspaper said, citing two people who had spoken to Trump about the matter.

Trump has repeatedly and publicly called on the Justice Department to investigate Clinton, and he has tweeted his dismay over what he saw as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ reluctance to go after Clinton. Trump’s former lawyer, John Dowd, urged Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in a memo last year to investigate Comey and his handling of the Clinton email investigation.

Sessions last year said he was directing senior federal prosecutors to look into matters raised by House Republicans related to the Clinton Foundation and a uranium mine transaction benefiting the foundation that was approved when Clinton was secretary of state. The FBI has been investigating that matter. Sessions, in March, told lawmakers that he was not prepared to appoint a special counsel to investigate the FBI and potential political bias there.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, also did not respond to a request for comment.
___
Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Chad Day contributed to this report.


August 24, 2018

Trump Worried and This One He Can't Shut Down by Firing Mueller









Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer for the Trump organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen and the 2016 payments he made to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign who alleged they had sexual encounters with the president, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Why it matters: This is a very significant story that’s already causing waves in the legal circles around the White House. Unlike Cohen, who was involved in quixotic projects and sleazy side deals to hush up women, Weisselberg has true and deep visibility into the Trump Organization. Trumpworld’s greatest fear is that U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) investigators will start prying deeper into the president’s business affairs. And Trump can’t shut down such an investigation by firing Robert Mueller. This one’s out of his hands.
The bottom line: If there are any fishy payments for any purpose going back decades, Weisselberg would know about them. That’s why Trumpworld is on high alert about this. Concerned texts are flying around now from sources in the President’s orbit.
Timing: David Pecker, CEO of American Media, Inc., which publishes The National Enquirer was also granted immunity this week for providing information about Cohen's 2016 payments.
Be smart: A top Washington white collar attorney told Axios that this “could be really big deal but unclear if it’s limited to past Cohen stuff which culminated in his plea or if it’s ongoing. But clearly prosecutors thought he had something of value in return for giving immunity. There had to be some 'showing' by his counsel to get the immunity.”
Axios

August 22, 2018

Paul Manafort: Guilty! Michael Cohen (President Lawyer and Mess Cleaner) Pleads Guilty! Trump Co Conspirator


 
Manafort leaving the court house





 Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 criminal counts Tuesday, including bank fraud, tax fraud and hiding a foreign bank account. Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on the other 10 charges.
The big picture: While this is the first case brought to court as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election, the federal tax and bank fraud charges are not related to Manafort's work with the Trump campaign — they're instead focused on his activities as a lobbyist for Ukraine.

The details: Manafort was found guilty on five counts of false tax returns, one count of a failure to register a foreign bank account, and two counts of bank fraud. All together, Manafort faces up to 80 years in prison. 
Manafort's lawyer appeared before cameras following the verdict saying:
"Mr. Manafort is disappointed for not getting acquittals all the way through or a complete hung jury on all counts. However, he would like to thank Judge Ellis for granting him a fair trial, [and thank the] jury for their very long and hard fought deliberations. He is evaluating all options at this point."
What’s next: Manafort will face a second criminal trial next month in Washington, D.C. on seven other charges brought by Mueller, including failure to register as a foreign agent, obstruction of justice and money laundering. 
President Trump reacted to the guilty verdict, saying "this has nothing to do" with Russian collusion and that he feels "very badly" for Manafort.  




President Trump's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty Tuesday to eight counts related to tax fraud, making false statements to a financial institution, excessive campaign contributions, and unlawful corporate contributions in a U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
During his guilty plea, Cohen said he was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of an unnamed candidate. He added that the same candidate directed him to pay $130,000 in hush money, which the candidate later reimbursed. Cohen told the court that he knew what he was doing was illegal.

One key detail, per the New York Times: "The plea agreement does not call for Mr. Cohen to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but it does not preclude him from providing information to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign."
Timing: News of Cohen's plea deal comes as former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight criminal counts by in Virginia.
These two posting were by AXIOS

August 14, 2018

Trump have Now Purged The FBI of All of Those Who Started The Russian Investigation











This by 
  published in Politico


The announcement Monday morning that former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok had been fired likely brings to a conclusion the personnel debate within the bureau regarding the behaviors of certain high-profile officials during the 2016 campaign cycle. Agent Strzok—a counterintelligence expert with particular expertise on Russia—played a significant role not only in parts of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server but also—in his role as deputy assistant director of the Counterintelligence Division—in the initiation of the still-ongoing probe into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials. He also committed the serious political sin of exchanging private text messages (at least some on a government phone) with Lisa Page, an FBI attorney with whom he was having an affair, in which the two officials expressed their severe distaste for President Trump personally (as well as other candidates). Like former Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe before him, Agent Strzok was terminated in the midst of a highly politicized environment in which the president of the United States has repeatedly attacked FBI officials by name and denounced the probe of his campaign as a “witch hunt.”

The actual documentation issued by the FBI outlining the basis or bases for Strzok’s termination has not been made public, and it will no doubt remain private unless Strzok himself permits its publication. Even from the information that is publicly available, however, we can reasonably surmise what were the likely bases for terminating Strzok’s employment. Those bases presumably revolved around misuse of government property, specifically with respect to using a government phone to communicate with Page in a manner that would conceal their personal relationship from their respective spouses. It is also possible, albeit unlikely, that the content of the text messages—and particularly their inflammatory verbiage—would have been cited as raising at least the appearance of impropriety that had cast doubt on Strzok’s trustworthiness and good judgment in how he had performed his duties.



Indeed, there was no doubt a viable—although arguably attenuated—policy justification supporting Strzok’s firing. Having represented government employees at the FBI and across the intelligence community in similar disciplinary proceedings for 11 years, however, I can tell you that the manner in which this particular saga came to a conclusion was in no way consistent with standard FBI practice.

No matter what some in the media might tell you, it is not impossible to fire government officials if there is a valid basis for doing so. When it comes to the FBI, that task is far easier because—with very limited exceptions that likely do not apply to Strzok—FBI officials are effectively “at-will” employees. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which governs the disciplinary due process system for the entire U.S. government, specifically excludes the bureau—as well as several other agencies within the intelligence community—from its statutory scope. In effect, FBI officials receive whatever internal due process the agency decides to provide to them out of a matter of discretion.

What was so unusual in the context of Strzok’s firing, however, was the direct intervention of Deputy Director David Bowdich into the process. Just like in any other FBI disciplinary proceeding, Strzok was initially afforded the right to appeal the proposed termination of his employment to Candace M. Will, the head of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility. I have appeared before Will several times on behalf of FBI clients and I can state from personal experience that she is well-credentialed and compassionate, but ultimately very strict. She is a firm believer in the notion that the FBI has to hold itself to the highest ethical and moral standards and that is often reflected in her determinations. In 11 years of practice, I cannot think of a single time I have ever managed to persuade Will to reverse a proposed termination of an FBI official’s employment.

Nonetheless, according to a statement from Strzok’s attorney, Will chose not to uphold the proposed termination of Strzok’s employment. Instead, she concluded that it was appropriate to instead demote Strzok and suspend him for 60 days. She apparently also concluded that Strzok would be afforded what is known as a “last chance agreement,” which is effectively a written understanding between the agency and the employee that even the slightest instance of misconduct going forward can and will likely result in immediate termination. That Will reached this conclusion is very surprising and, in my professional opinion, speaks to just how thin the case for firing Strzok likely was.

That Deputy Director Bowdich chose to overrule Will is what takes this matter so far outside the ordinary practice of the FBI disciplinary process. I have never seen senior FBI leadership unilaterally and directly intervene in such a manner, whether in my client’s favor or otherwise. If Strzok had not been satisfied with Will’s determination, appealing to Deputy Director Bowdich would not even have been a formal option. His final stage of administrative appeal would have been before the Disciplinary Review Board, which is comprised of three senior FBI officials but to my knowledge does not typically (if ever) include the deputy director.

To be clear: No legal restriction likely prevented Deputy Director Bowdich from directly intervening. After all, Strzok was effectively an “at-will” employee. What is concerning here is the continuous and repeated appearance of political considerations seeping into the traditionally apolitical disciplinary process at the FBI. President Trump made no bones about his distaste for Agent Strzok, just as he similarly publicly criticized Director Comey and Director McCabe prior to their terminations. All three men played or were still playing a role in the investigation into the president’s campaign before they were fired.

With the firing of Peter Strzok, the president’s purge of senior FBI leadership who helped launch that investigation is now complete. For those wondering whether Trump would allow the bureau to do its job without political interference from the White House, I think we have our answer.

August 9, 2018

Trump and GOP Congress Took A Health Care Law that Was Working and Getting Better and Killed it Because it Was Working and Not Theirs







Yesterday, the Trump administration unveiled plans to allow insurers to skim healthy customers out of the insurance pool by offering skimpy plans that last for up to three years. The legally dubious maneuver is the crowning touch on the administration’s persistent efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Conservative intellectuals are justifiably ecstatic. “Wednesday’s rule came to be because dedicated people within the Trump administration worked hard to push federal policy in a libertarian direction,” exults Cato Institute scholar and onetime author of the “Anti-Universal Coverage Club Manifesto” Michael Cannon. Indeed, Trump’s attacks on Obamacare, taken together as a sum, provide a fair picture of the American right’s unique, social Darwinist philosophy of health-care policy.
Many people are either too poor or too sick to afford access to medical care. In every democracy in the world save the United States, a broad social consensus accepts the need to subsidize care for those people. This includes the conservative parties in those countries. Among right-of-center parties in the developed world, only the Republicans are so committed to anti-government dogma as to oppose measures to subsidize medical care for those who can’t afford it themselves.
But whenever Democrats have attempted to expand access to health care, Republican leaders have generally declined to present themselves as principled opponents of universal health care. Instead, they have promised they could accomplish the same goal in a better, cheaper fashion, without any of the painful trade-offs in the existing Democratic-authored proposals. No such plan ever emerged, in part because Obamacare was the most market-friendly way to accomplish the bare minimum objectives of any humanitarian health-care reform. The only space to Obamacare’s right involved punishing the poor and sick with medical and financial deprivation. 


It is now clear that, on its own terms, Obamacare’s policy design worked. When the new marketplaces opened, insurers initially set premiums far lower than the Congressional Budget Office expected, and — as it turned out — lower than the market would bear. After correcting their initial under-pricing, insurers settled their premiums at a stable level that was both affordable to most consumers (especially in states that tried to make the markets work, as opposed to sabotaging them) and profitable for them.
Amazingly, the exchanges have survived despite eight years of legal attacks and administrative sabotage by both Republican state-level government and now the federal government under Trump. Republicans have eliminated outreach advertising for the exchanges, refused to issue required payments for insurers who accept disproportionately sick customers, and are now trying to lure healthy customers out of the exchanges, driving up costs for those who remain. The Republican line maintains that all these blatant attempts to kill the law are somehow the fault of the law’s designers. “Democrats want to blame the GOP for increases that are baked into the health law’s faulty design,” insists a pious Wall Street Journal editorial.
This is demonstrably false. A new study by Matthew Fiedler of the Brookings Institution shows that insurers in the exchanges have made a healthy 10 percent profit this year, and if the Trump administration had taken no additional steps to sabotage the exchanges, premiums would be coming down by an average of 4.3 percent next year.
poll by Axios finds that, by a 20-point margin, Americans would rather keep Obamacare or do more than repeal it or do less. Republican politicians, caught between the unpopular extremism of their ideological vanguard in Washington and the moderate demands of the electorate, are retreating to evasions. In a New York Times story about Democrats focusing on health care, a Republican spokesperson gamely retorts, “A contrast between single-payer health care and our ideas — a more patient-centered approach — is a debate we fully welcome.” If you don’t know what “patient-centered” means, don’t worry. It has no meaning at all. Which is the point. The entire purpose of the phrase is to obscure the party’s health-care agenda.
Trump’s most recent step is to allow insurers to sell those skimpy plans with little coverage — excluding customers with expensive medical needs, who would be left in exchanges without healthy customers to help share the costs. This would provide some immediate cost-benefit to healthy customers, who would be free from cross-subsidizing the less fortunate. Of course, if they happen to suffer unexpected medical misfortune themselves, they will be out of luck.
The new Trumpcare plans will be cheap for people who are healthy enough to qualify. But they don’t cover much. If you find you’re having a baby, or need a weekend stay at a hospital, or even something as exotic as prescription drugs, you’re out of luck. The Journal editorial page insists this will all be fine, because “not everyone needs all benefits,” and also, “[t]he HHS rule also stipulates that issuers must prominently display a notice that the coverage isn’t compliant with the Affordable Care Act. Everyone will know what they’re buying.” Right, because everybody in America is already aware of what the essential benefits of Obamacare contain, and thus what their absence implies. Anyway, insurers are definitely going to make sure you’re aware of all the shortfalls and gaps in the product they’re selling you.
What is striking about the Trump-era Republican health agenda is the lack of policy ambition. Having spent years insisting they had an army of wonks who could design a better alternative to the Obamacare “train wreck,” the Republican plan of attack has dissolved into a rearguard sabotage campaign with no pretense of doing anything to help the poor and sick afford medical care. Health care remains a policy ground with which conservative-movement dogma cannot grapple.

August 3, 2018

Trump Wont Say Putin Still Interfering in our Mid Term Elections but He Sent Our Spies to Tell Us


BRETT NEELY.   NPR
 A day after a key lawmaker said the U.S. government was not doing enough to take election interference by foreign powers seriously, the Trump administration responded forcefully with a surprise White House briefing to emphasize the breadth and extent of its election security initiatives.
"The president has taken decisive action to defend our election systems from meddling and interference," national security adviser John Bolton said at the briefing.
Last month, Trump came under broad, bipartisan criticism for appearing to downplay the U.S. intelligence community's assessment that Russia was behind the 2016 cyber attacks, during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a letter to Senate Democrats who had written President Trump to complain about his administration's response to Russian-backed hacking against Democrats and state election infrastructure during the 2016 election, Bolton emphasized, "President Trump has not and will not tolerate interference in America's system of representative government."
Bolton's letter touted stepped-up federal-state information sharing and coordination on election security and listed a series of Russian entities that had been sanctioned since Trump took office. A White House fact sheet described the administration's efforts as a "whole-of-government approach."
"We meet on this constantly, the senior staff here in the White House. We meet with the heads of the different agencies involved. We discuss it quite regularly," Bolton told reporters at the briefing.
At a Senate intelligence committee hearing on Wednesday, the panel's chair, Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., said, "Some feel that we as a society are sitting in a burning room, calmly drinking a cup of coffee, telling ourselves, 'This is fine.' That's not fine.
"We should no longer be talking about if the Russians attempted to interfere with American society. They've been doing it since the days of the Soviet Union, and they're still doing it today," Burr continued.
At Thursday's briefing, top administration officials concurred with Burr's assessment that Russia was continuing efforts to interfere in U.S. politics.
"Our democracy is in the crosshairs," said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
In the past week, two Democratic senators, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, have stepped forward to describe attempts to hack their computer systems. On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it had disrupted an online influence operation that reached nearly 300,000 followers with political messages.
"We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States," said Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. "We will continue to monitor and warn of any such efforts."
Coats emphasized that Russia was not the only country the intelligence community was monitoring: "We know there are others that — who have the capability, and may be considering influence activities."
So far, that campaign seems to have avoided the voter registration systems and election equipment vendors that were targeted in 2016.
"We are not yet seeing the same kind of efforts to specifically target election infrastructure," said FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Earlier this year, Congress distributed $380 million to all 50 states to enhance election-related cybersecurity. That money is just now flowing to state and local officials and will have a limited impact on the 2018 elections.
Republicans in both chambers of Congress defeated attempts by Democrats to give states an additional $250 million for election security.
In response to Wednesday's White House briefing, Democratic senators, led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said, "We implore the administration to take this very real and imminent threat to our elections and our democracy more seriously."

July 20, 2018

"There is a Tape" of [Trump, Michael Cohen Sex Girlfriend]









There is a Tape[Trump, Michael, Sexual Girlfriend]
ADAMFOXIE* BLOG INTERNATIONAL·FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018




The FBI has obtained a recording of a conversation between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump from September 2016 in which the two discussed a potential payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal who claimed she had an affair with Trump, reports the New York Times.

What they're saying: "Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, confirmed in a telephone conversation on Friday that Mr. Trump had discussed the payments with Mr. Cohen on the tape but said the payment was ultimately never made," per the Times' Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt. "He said the recording was less than two minutes and demonstrated that the president had done nothing wrong."

 
The details: The FBI reportedly obtained the recording during their April raid of Cohen's office and hotel room. 
Flashback: Trump blasted the raid at a meeting with senior military leadership, calling it a "disgraceful situation" and an "attack on our country in a true sense ... an attack on what we all stand for."

Why it matters: This is a nightmare scenario for the White House. As Mike Allen reported after the raid, "Cohen, unlike Ivanka or the other kids, is the only person on earth intertwined in Trump’s professional, political, personal, legal and family life — the man with secrets few others hold."

Source: Axios

July 16, 2018

Russia Is Been Financing Trump~ Would Trump Loose His Money Because a Stupid Presidency? Follow The Money Here



FOLLOW THE MONY IS NEVER BEEN PROVEN WRONG! Here is the Money Do you want to know? 🦊

Gettyimages 585535074One October day in 2007, a celebrity real estate developer in a greatcoat and powder-blue tie alighted from a stretch limousine in Toronto’s financial district. Before a bank of photographers, he took hold of a golden shovel. To his left, also holding a novelty spade, was his partner in a $500 million skyscraper, construction of which was to begin that day: a Russian-Canadian billionaire whose fortune had its origins in the collision of communism, capitalism and the KGB at the fall of the Soviet empire.
Also present were representatives of the project’s financial backers — an Austrian bank that would soon be accused of failing to conduct sufficient checks on the sources of its ex-Soviet clients’ money.
Camera flashes glinted on the shovels as the grinning dignitaries plunged them into a neat patch of dirt on which had been painted the word “Trump.” So commenced work on the Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto. “People really want to own what I do,” Donald Trump told an interviewer that day, declaring that, among other qualities, the tower would be “taller than other buildings.”
RUSSIANS MAKE UP A PRETTY DISPROPORTIONATE CROSS-SECTION OF A LOT OF OUR ASSETS. … WE SEE A LOT OF MONEY POURING IN FROM RUSSIA.
DONALD TRUMP JR., 2008

The Financial Times has been investigating the money behind Trump Toronto for 10 months. Legal documents, signed statements and two dozen interviews with people with knowledge of the project and the money that flowed through it reveal that the venture connects the U.S. president with a shadowy post-Soviet world where politics and personal enrichment merge.
Some of the money flows that the Financial Times has established raise questions about Trump’s vulnerability to undue influence now that he is in the White House. These include evidence that Trump’s billionaire partner in the Toronto project authorized a secret $100 million payment to a Moscow-based fixer representing Kremlin-backed investors. That payment was part of a series of transactions that generated millions for the backers of the Toronto venture — a project that, in turn, made millions for the future president.
It is precisely this approach to the provenance of the money that has sustained Trump’s business career that concerns many who have examined it closely. After a series of corporate bankruptcies in the 1990s and early 2000s left the property business he had inherited from his father largely unable to borrow from mainstream banks, Trump turned to ever more obscure backers. He was able to borrow sporadically from Deutsche Bank, with whom he had a long and fractious relationship, but, from about the turn of the millennium, he also adopted a new model, under which he licensed his brand to skyscraper developments that the Trump Organization would then manage under contract.
This was a time when the former Soviet Union’s newly minted oligarchs were seeking foreign havens for their wealth. By 2008, Trump’s son, Donald Jr., was telling a real estate conference: “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. … We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Some of this came through sales of individual units in Trump-branded properties, where Trump was sometimes entitled to a cut.
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An alleged Kazakh money-laundering network channeled millions through apartment sales at the Trump SoHo; a Russian oligarch bought a Palm Beach estate from Trump in 2008 for $95 million, more than double what Trump had paid for it four years earlier; in Florida, 63 Russians, some with political connections, spent $100 million buying property at seven Trump-branded luxury towers, Reuters established. The money was not exclusively from the former Soviet Union: At the Trump Panama, some of it allegedly belonged to Latin American drug traffickers.
In recent years, it has become increasingly clear that many of the oligarchs who made their riches amid the downfall of the Soviet Union have protected their fortunes by advancing the interests of the ruling cliques at home. This wealth has been coursing through Western markets, often disguised by shell companies. Trump’s sector, real estate, has long been susceptible to infusions of incognito money. A large proportion of sales of high-end U.S. property takes place through companies whose true owners are hidden. A U.S. Treasury investigation last year found that one in three cash buyers of top-end property was suspicious.
Trump has broken with presidential tradition by refusing to divest his holdings in the dozens of companies that comprise the Trump Organization or to release tax returns that might shine more light on what appear to be multitudinous conflicts of interest. In May last year, his decision to fire James Comey as head of the FBI triggered the appointment of Robert Mueller, himself a former FBI chief, as special counsel to investigate links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
Testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey was asked whether the investigation might turn up matters unrelated to the campaign. He replied that “in any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks, sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature.”
Paul Manafort, one of Trump’s campaign managers, has already learned what this means in practice. He faces charges, which he denies, of laundering $30 million in connection with his work as a consultant for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, has pleaded guilty to charges that included lying about a lobbying contract he had with Turkey. Much of the rest of Mueller’s investigation is closely guarded, but it is clear that he sees prior financial dealings as fair game.
Tom Warner, a U.S.–based corporate investigator specializing in Russia and Ukraine, is among those who spoke to the FT who believe that Trump’s outlook is shaped by the alignment of his interests with those who brought him the money that sustained his career. When Trump turns on longstanding U.S. allies and suggests that Russia be readmitted to the G8, some analysts see ulterior motives. Such scrutiny intensified this week after Trump attended a NATO summit in Brussels, visited London to meet Prime Minister Theresa May and was then due to sit down with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. “Putin or his chosen successor will be there long after Trump leaves office,” Warner said. “And [Trump and his children] need the family business model to still be there.”
The tale of the Trump Toronto illuminates what it means for the U.S. to have a leader whose business model has long depended on exchanging his family name for money with a murky past, no questions asked.
***
By 2010, the Trump Toronto was supposed to be finished: 65 storeys containing 261 luxury hotel rooms and condominiums, all encased in a shimmering glass façade. But construction dragged on and in October, Alex Shnaider, the billionaire backer who had broken ground with Trump three years earlier, put aside another $40 million for the project. Millions from the project would subsequently flow out to Trump himself — and documents seen by the FT raise serious questions about how Shnaider’s company was making its money in the period leading up to the decision to invest this $40 million in the Trump Toronto.
A few months earlier, documents show Shnaider had approved a secret $100 million “commission” payment to “introducers” representing the Kremlin’s interests. The payment was to facilitate the sale of his group’s prize asset, its stake in the vast Zaporizhstal steel mill in eastern Ukraine — and represented more than 10 percent of the $850 million sale price.
DONALD DOESN’T DO DUE DILIGENCE. 

ABE WALLACH, FORMER SENIOR FIGURE AT THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION


The Wall Street Journal reported in 2017 that the sale of the mill was financed by Vnesheconombank (VEB), a Russian state-owned bank whose chairman at the time was Vladimir Putin. But this $100 million commission has not previously been reported. Nor has it been revealed that legal filings in a recent commercial dispute between Shnaider and his business partner raised the possibility that some of the money could have ended up with Russian government officials. If that was the case, the steel mill deal would risk falling foul of antibribery laws in Canada and potentially other Western countries that make it a crime to pay foreign officials to gain a business advantage.
With the $100 million commission arranged, the sale went through, and the proceeds flowed into Shnaider’s company, which in turn earmarked funds for the Trump Toronto. Tom Keatinge, a former JPMorgan banker who now specializes in financial crime at London’s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said that if the $100 million payment were deemed a bribe, the flow of money through Shnaider to the Trump Toronto meant that “you could argue that the Trump Organization is receiving the proceeds of crime and therefore is being used as a money-laundering opportunity.” Experts on illicit finance say that any legal vulnerability for Trump and his business would depend on what he and other executives knew — or should have known — about the source of his partner’s funds.
The Trump Organization has taken an approach to due diligence — the background checks on a business partner — that one former associate who does not wish to be identified called “willful obliviousness.” Abe Wallach, a former senior figure at the Trump Organization, was quoted in a 2017 Bloomberg article saying: “Donald doesn’t do due diligence.”
Shnaider, born in St. Petersburg and raised in Toronto, amassed a fortune that, like those of several of Donald Trump’s business partners, had its roots in the tumultuous final years of the Soviet Union. Many of today’s oligarchs have sought to portray themselves as unremarkable businessmen, preferring that their life-and-death struggles for riches in the 1990s fade into history. Yet as their influence in the West grows, it becomes more important to understand any links to the authoritarians and kleptocrats back home. That is especially true in the case of those who have done business with a U.S. president whose campaign is under investigation for alleged collusion with the Kremlin.
“Russia has long been associated with dirty money,” said Elise Bean, a former top official on the U.S. Senate’s leading investigative committee and veteran of several money-laundering investigations. “Anyone getting substantial funds originating in the former Soviet Union should have known that the funds were high risk and required a careful due diligence review to ensure the money was clean.”
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Shnaider’s rise to become one of Canada’s wealthiest men — he was on Forbes’ list of billionaires by the age of 36 — was helped by Boris Birshtein, his father-in-law and mentor in business. Convivial and ambitious, Birshtein enjoyed the rare privilege among Western-based businessmen of being able to traverse the Iron Curtain. “I’m for many years in business with Soviet Union,” Birshtein, who was born in Soviet Lithuania and emigrated to Canada, told an interviewer in 1993. “I started with [Leonid] Brezhnev and, you know, somehow I manage to get in some way [a] unique position and I met lot of people and made friendship with a lot of very powerful people.”
In May, the FT spoke with a former KGB officer who worked in the 1980s in the agency’s foreign intelligence arm. He explained how, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, the Communist party and the KGB scrambled to stash money abroad. He also said that, in the late 1980s, Birshtein was one of the Western businessmen whose companies became linked with KGB figures involved with the agency’s efforts to build up international business interests.
Birshtein’s lawyer told the FT that it would be “preposterous” and “patently false” to say that the businessman was a KGB “operative.” The lawyer added, however, that Birshtein did recall agreeing in the mid-1980s to participate in a Soviet plan to set up international business ventures that was led by Georgi Arbatov, head of a prestigious Moscow think-tank. According to a defector’s account published years later, Arbatov was also a KGB asset codenamed Vasili.
Birshtein’s lawyer said “the joint venture arrangement, while proposed and formalized, never actually materialized into any substantive projects and was formally terminated shortly after its inception.” He added that Birshtein had no knowledge that Arbatov “was in any way affiliated with the KGB”, but noted that “affiliation with the KGB or other arms of the former Soviet state was exceptionally commonplace in the Soviet Union.”
That is not Birshtein’s only recorded connection to a KGB figure. In 1991, shortly before the Soviet Union finally collapsed, Birshtein’s company hired Leonid Veselovsky as an economic adviser on a one-year contract. Birshtein’s lawyer told the FT that his client’s company hired Veselovsky because he had an economics Ph.D. and was a member of the central committee of the Communist party. But the former KGB officer told the FT that Veselovsky had also served as a senior officer in the KGB’s foreign operations arm and had been “the mastermind of KGB money laundering.” (Veselovsky could not be reached for comment; the former KGB officer said he had “disappeared without trace.”)
While Birshtein was cultivating the Soviet elite, Shnaider’s Russian parents had joined a wave of Jewish emigration, settling in 1982 in a Toronto district popular with immigrants. They bought a delicatessen, where the young Shnaider stacked shelves. He was drawn to business and, by the early 1990s, Birshtein was introducing him to the helter-skelter capitalism taking hold in the former Soviet Union. That would bring them both into the orbit of one of its most notorious figures.
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Allegations of ties to the American mob have followed Trump throughout his career. For Alex Shnaider, the connection to an alleged Russian gangster runs through his erstwhile father-in-law.
Sergei Mikhailov, known as Mikhas, is widely recognized as the leader of what, in the 1990s and early 2000s, was regarded as Moscow’s most powerful organized crime syndicate: the Solntsevskaya Bratva. The FBI’s top expert on Russian organized crime in the 1990s said the group’s activities included extortion, narcotics, murder and money laundering. In a rare interview with the FT in June, Mikhailov denied this, saying the Solntsevskaya “does not exist.” A great barrel of a man in a maroon checked jacket, his Moscow office festooned with icons of the Orthodox Church, he insisted he was merely a “run-of-the-mill businessman” with interests in trade, tourism and real estate. The former champion wrestler added that, given the turbulence of the post-Soviet years, “my success is that I’m still alive.”
Mikhailov, 60, told the FT that he met Birshtein — “a very talented businessman” — at a meeting with the Moldovan president in 1995, and the pair hit it off. “He trusted me, and this is a very important factor in business.” He said the duo made “big plans” for business ventures, most ambitiously to renovate a pipeline that ran from Central Asia to Ukraine. Mikhailov said his job was to source the technical know-how, while Birshtein’s task was to convince the authorities to back the project.
“He had big connections” in Ukraine, Mikhailov said, “as far as I know, all the way up to the president and his entourage.” (Birshtein, through his lawyer, said he had “never been friends” with Leonid Kuchma, Ukraine’s then-president.) Mikhailov also remembered meeting Birshtein’s young protégé, Alex Shnaider, at a restaurant in Belgium, where Birshtein kept an office.
Donald Trump doing media interviews at the groundbreaking ceremonies for theTrump International Hotel and Tower Toronto in 2007.
Shnaider’s lawyer did not respond to a question about this alleged encounter with Mikhailov. Birshtein’s lawyer said his client did not recall such a meeting. He also said Birshtein had met Mikhailov “a handful of times” but “was never involved with the pipeline project”, had “no business dealings” with him and was not aware of his alleged criminal activity.
Mikhailov said the prospective partnership with Birshtein came to an abrupt end when Mikhailov was arrested in Switzerland in 1996, accused of being a member of a criminal organization. According to an account at the time in an intelligence newsletter, detectives who searched Mikhailov’s Swiss residence found a contract for him to pay Birshtein $150 million — an agreement, Mikhailov said, that was “most likely” connected to the pipeline project. He insisted, however, that no money ever changed hands, dismissing investigators’ claims to the contrary. To Birshtein’s knowledge, “no such contract exists,” his lawyer said.
The Swiss did not pursue charges against Birshtein, but Mikhailov’s case came to court. The trial was held under tight security after a witness was shot dead in Amsterdam. Mikhailov spent two years in jail awaiting a verdict before he was acquitted by a jury and awarded compensation.
From about this time, Birshtein receded from the post-Soviet business scene and his son-in-law emerged. According to a 2017 witness statement by Eduard Shyfrin, a Ukrainian metals trader who became Shnaider’s partner, Belgian police investigating Mikhailov raided Birshtein and Shnaider’s houses in Antwerp in 1996, prompting Shnaider to shift his base back to Toronto. That year, Birshtein sold out of Midland, the group Shnaider and Shyfrin would greatly expand, his lawyer said, adding: “Our client is a law-abiding businessperson with no criminal record.”
Birshtein’s lawyer said his client “had no involvement with [the Trump Toronto] in any manner either directly or indirectly.” A Cypriot company, DE Multi-Finance, which until at least 2003 was controlled by a man who had served as a director of Birshtein companies, was listed in 2016 among the creditors to the Trump Toronto, but Birshtein’s lawyer said Birshtein had “never had any association or connection” with DE Multi-Finance or the Trump Toronto.
Gradually, a rift emerged between Birshtein and Shnaider. Birshtein now describes Shnaider as his “former, long-estranged son-in-law” (neither would confirm whether Shnaider and Birshtein’s daughter had divorced). In 2005, Shnaider told Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper that “due to unfortunate and irreconcilable differences relating to business policy and family matters, I have not had any contact with my father-in-law for more than four years.”
Stocky and with close-cropped hair, Shnaider has a more serious demeanor than the gregarious Birshtein. Like Trump, he owed his opportunity to the previous generation and was keen to show he was his own man, associates said. Nonetheless, Birshtein’s role in Shnaider’s rise to riches is indelible. “Boris did a lot of things for him,” said a former Midland manager, and Shnaider built on “what Boris had created for him.”
The principal launch pad that Birshtein built for Shnaider was in Ukraine, where Birshtein had established interests in metals. In the 1990s, the country’s mineral riches were a scene of lawless and sometimes violent competition. It was here that Shnaider started to make the millions that ultimately helped to build the Trump Toronto.
Shyfrin wrote in his witness statement: “Mr. Birshtein gave Mr. Shnaider some interests in the Ukrainian steel business. Mr. Shnaider, however, knew nothing about steel at the time. He had no involvement with Ukraine or metallurgy prior to his marriage to a daughter of Mr. Birshtein.”
The Ukrainian steel business would catapult Shnaider and Shyfrin into the ranks of the global super-rich. First, they established themselves as middlemen between the old Soviet steel plants and global markets. Then, in the late 1990s, during the wave of cut-price privatizations that created many oligarchs, the chance arose to buy the Zaporizhstal steel mill.
Vadim Grib, a banker who led a rival consortium in the privatization, claimed when he spoke to the FT recently in Kiev that Shnaider and Shyfrin were unfairly favored by the Ukrainian authorities, who designated them “strategic investors,” giving them an advantage over competitors. Their partner in the bid was Vasyl Khmelnytsky, a businessman who was then a member of Ukraine’s parliament. In an interview with the FT, Khmelnytsky agreed that connections were key. “Fifteen years ago, to be a successful businessman, you have to have access to those in power,” he said. By 2001, Shnaider and Shyfrin had paid a reported $70 million for a stake in Zaporizhstal that, within five years, would be valued at nearly 10 times as much.
From there, Shnaider and Shyfrin expanded. One major 2003 acquisition, of the storied Red October steel plant in the Russian city of Volgograd, showed that they were able to navigate the emerging business scene in Russia as they had in Ukraine. Mathieu Boulègue, an expert at the Chatham House think-tank in London, said Red October was “one of the few remaining Russian companies able to produce the armored steel and reinforced steel you need for the military industry.” Securing permission to buy and run the plant would involve maintaining a relationship with the upper echelons of the Russian military, Boulègue said.
Shnaider also amassed the standard trappings of enormous wealth. He bought a 170-foot yacht, an Israeli football club and a Formula One team. For entertainment at a family party in Toronto, he booked Justin Bieber. And then there was the must-have asset for billionaires who got rich in the former Soviet Union: a prime piece of Western real estate.
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To the sound of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” Alex Shnaider and Donald Trump cut a red ribbon to mark the belated opening of their Toronto skyscraper in April 2012. Trump’s three adult children were present: Ivanka, who would later work alongside her father in the White House, and Donald Jr. and Eric, who would take over the family business. As the Trumps strode through the marble lobby, anyone would think this was their building. But the money had come from elsewhere.
More than a decade had passed since Trump signed up to the project in 2001, alongside Ritz-Carlton and a little-known developer called Leib Waldman. The project almost collapsed the following year when Waldman was exposed as a fugitive fraudster and Ritz-Carlton pulled out. But Trump pressed on. Shnaider joined the venture in about 2003. Neither he nor Trump answered the FT’s questions about how they met.
Over the years that followed, while Trump was trying and failing to have his mobster associate Felix Sater secure a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow, Shnaider poured funds into the Toronto skyscraper. All the while, his steel mill was becoming embroiled in Putin’s efforts to project Russia’s influence beyond its borders — a strategy that would eventually expand to include meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.
Employing 50,000 people, the Zaporizhstal steel mill is among Ukraine’s biggest industrial operations. It lies just 150 miles from the Russian border. In the years before Putin’s 2014 invasion, Russia waged an economic incursion in eastern Ukraine, securing industrial assets either directly or through sympathetic oligarchs.
In May 2010, Shnaider received a call from Shyfrin in Moscow. It was the start of a series of events that have not previously been reported and that are described in the documents seen by the FT, including a complaint Shnaider brought against Shyfrin in 2016 in a London arbitration court and one of Shyfrin’s witness statements in response.
According to Shnaider’s arbitration claim, Shyfrin told him that buyers acting “on behalf of the Russian government” wanted to buy their Zaporizhstal stake and that he was coming “under pressure” to sell. At the time, Moscow was capitalizing on a slump in demand for Ukrainian steel to snap up assets in order to maintain influence over a neighbor being courted by the West. Shnaider said Shyfrin told him that Moscow regarded buying the Zaporizhstal mill as “politically strategic.” Shyfrin wrote in his witness statement that a top Russian official told him “in very clear terms” to proceed with the deal, hinting that, if he did not, his Russian assets would be in jeopardy.
The deal was to be financed by VEB, the Russian state-owned bank that was then chaired by Putin. It serves as a financial arm of the Kremlin, sometimes even more, such as when a Russian spy in New York used a job as a VEB banker as his cover. (After Russia invaded Ukraine, VEB was placed under Western sanctions.) The FT reviewed corporate filings for the Cyprus and British Virgin Islands companies to which Midland sold its Zaporizhstal stake. These strongly suggest that VEB itself put up the entire purchase price and ended up with control of Midland’s stake in the steel mill. In effect, Shnaider and Shyfrin’s deal was with the Russian state itself. VEB declined to comment.
Midland received $850 million for its stake, $160 million more than the amount that Shnaider and Shyfrin had been offered for the steel mill by Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest oligarch. But there was a twist. The documents show that of the $160 million in extra cash from the Kremlin-backed buyers, $50 million would cover a termination penalty owed to Akhmetov, $10 million would be a sweetener for Midland — and $100 million would need to be sent, via shell companies in Cyprus and other circuitous routes, to what Shnaider called the “introducers” who arranged the deal.
The man who set up the sale, according to Shyfrin’s witness statement, was Igor Bakai.
Bakai is a well-known figure in both Kiev and Moscow. He served in senior positions in Ukraine’s state gas company and the presidential administration before fleeing for Russia during the 2004 Orange Revolution. The new Ukrainian government accused him of embezzlement, but the Russian authorities declined to send him home, and he set up in Moscow as a business fixer. By 2010, according to Shyfrin’s witness statement, he was “well connected politically at the highest levels” and fronting a deal that the Kremlin was very keen to see done.
The most pressing question, said analysts to whom the FT has outlined this money flow, was what became of the $100 million commission. Was a transaction that ultimately saw millions flow to a future U.S. president facilitated by the illicit enrichment of Russian officials?
In his witness statement, Shyfrin acknowledged that this “substantial” commission “may appear unusual compared to Western-style business dealings. However, while doing business in Russia and Ukraine, Midland paid various commissions, as it was common practice.” Crucially, he added: “I did not even know if the commission was to be purely for [Bakai]” or also for “additional recipients” who Bakai represented. Given that the ultimate backer of the deal was the Kremlin, that raises the possibility that money passed from Trump’s business partner to Russian officials.
Shnaider offered an alternative version of events in his arbitration claim — but one that ends with similar suspicions over whether there may have been illicit enrichment of Russian officials. He claimed that, under the pretext of having to send a secret commission to Bakai, Shyfrin diverted the money to himself. Shnaider said Shyfrin told a Midland manager in Moscow at about the time of the deal that he needed money “to pay off officials in the Kremlin.” (In his witness statement, Shyfrin denied saying this.)
Bakai signed a statement in the arbitration case saying he did indeed receive the money. Asked whether he stood by that statement, Bakai told the FT he was prevented from providing comment for publication because he was under house arrest in a separate case and prohibited from speaking to the media. For his part, Shyfrin appears not to have fallen foul of the Kremlin. In October 2016, days before Trump’s victory, he was granted Russian citizenship.
Several people with knowledge of the deal offered differing accounts to the FT of where the $100 million ended up. Each version, however, gives rise to important questions about Trump’s business partner’s dealings. There appears to be no dispute in the documents that Shnaider signed off on the $100 million payment on the understanding that it was heading for representatives of the Kremlin’s interests.
Months after Shnaider authorized this “commission” and the Zaporizhstal sale was completed — bringing in hundreds of millions for Midland — the documents show that he earmarked $40 million for further investment in the construction of the Trump Toronto. Thereafter, at least $4 million subsequently flowed out of the project to Trump in licensing and management fees — possibly much more, given that his financial disclosures as candidate and president only cover the years since 2014.
Both Shnaider and Shyfrin declined to be interviewed or to answer questions from the FT for this article. Their lawyers said the arbitration documents were confidential.
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One of the most striking things about the history of the Trump Toronto is the number of independent threads that connect Trump to post-Soviet money. Raiffeisen, the Austrian bank whose representatives stood alongside Trump and Shnaider at the Toronto groundbreaking in 2007, had previously backed Midland projects in the former Soviet Union. It was persuaded to finance the Trump Toronto, Shnaider said at the time, thanks to “the universal appeal of the Trump brand and the Trump Toronto team’s global business experience.”
Raiffeisen had funded other North American real estate ventures, but most of its business lay east of Vienna. It had expanded aggressively in the former Soviet Union, at times becoming embroiled in regional power struggles, such as when its investment arm was revealed in 2006 to have represented the concealed interests of a Ukrainian oligarch in an opaque gas deal with Russia’s Gazprom.
Many Raiffeisen projects received funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a World Bank–type institution for the post-Soviet region. In the years leading up to 2010, some EBRD directors became alarmed with what they saw as Raiffeisen’s cavalier attitude to the origins of its clients’ money, according to two people familiar with the matter.
“This is irresponsible behavior,” Kurt Bayer, a former Austrian finance ministry official who was an EBRD director at the time, told the FT in describing Raiffeisen’s dealings at the time. “You just push and build market share without doing the controls that are required.” The EBRD told the FT that in 2010, concerned by “an alleged incident,” it “worked closely with the [Raiffeisen] management team to develop an appropriate response, the central part of which was a comprehensive review of the bank’s compliance system.” Raiffeisen said that its compliance processes and staffing “had to be adjusted” due to its growth in central and eastern Europe and increased regulation. This was, Raiffeisen added, “a development in the entire banking industry.”
Raiffeisen put up $310 million for the Trump Toronto — then treated the developers remarkably kindly. First, it required them to presell just 80 percent of the units before releasing loan funds, less than the 100 percent that local media reported was the usual standard. When sales lagged, Raiffeisen allowed deadlines to slip at least 10 times. When Trump Toronto finally went bust in 2016, the bank was still owed all but about $7 million of its initial loan. Asked to explain its leniency, Raiffeisen told the FT that Austrian bank secrecy laws prevented it from discussing the project.
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Now that Trump is president, his administration’s approach to the division between affairs of state and personal interests at times appears to echo how business is often done in the post-Soviet states where many of his backers made their money.
In May, the BBC reported that Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer, received a $400,000 payment arranged by intermediaries acting for Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, to set up talks with Trump. (The two leaders did meet in June last year, but Poroshenko and Cohen have denied the BBC’s claims.) Reports of conflicts of interests across the wider administration proliferate. The Washington Post reported in February that the United Arab Emirates, China, Israel and Mexico were trying to influence Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser and the scion of another New York real estate family, through his business interests.
Several experts on financial crime and espionage told the FT that the most troubling part of the interplay between Trump’s past in business and his present in public office was his potential susceptibility to blackmail. Keatinge, the RUSI expert on illicit finance, calls such a scenario “the number-one fear of any intelligence agency.” Knowledge of an illicit transaction might not be as sensational as the most notorious claim in the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele’s dossier on Trump’s Russian connections — that Russian intelligence had footage of the future president instructing prostitutes to urinate on the Moscow hotel bed in which the Obamas had once slept. But it could be at least as powerful if used as kompromat with which to pressure the president.
Trump-branded property ventures have a way of going bust, even in booms. Sales at the Toronto tower came in lower than the developers had predicted during construction, but Trump still made his millions. In 2017, a property fund bought out the bankrupt venture and renamed it the Adelaide Hotel.
The M came off first, then the P. Soon the T, R and U were gone too. It was July 2017, Donald Trump was seven months into his presidency and Washington was fizzing with news that he had held an undisclosed private rendezvous with Putin during a trip to Germany and that Donald Jr. had met a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton during the campaign. The Trump name was everywhere but, in Toronto, a crane was removing it, letter by enormous letter, from the pinnacle of Canada’s second-tallest building. The past, however, is not so easily erased.
Additional reporting by Roman Olearchyk in Kiev, Max Seddon in Moscow, David Blood in London, Jim Brunsden in Brussels and Kerin Hope in Athens.
Source that put us on the right track:Ozy

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