While he often claims he has no connections to Russia or Russian business interests, a groundbreaking new report from Bloomberg View suggests that President Trump has numerous partnerships with Russian organized crime and has benefited from money laundering operations which reach around the globe.
Rubles Spend Just Like Dollars
In 2007, as part of a deposition for one of many lawsuits which have been filed against Donald Trump over the years, Trump claimed he had extensive holdings in Russia:
“It’s ridiculous that I wouldn’t be investing in Russia. Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment.”
A year later, Donald Trump Jr. proudly bragged:
“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.”
And it turns out that those assets may well include money from Russians. Money that was funneled to offshore accounts as a way of hiding it. In other words, Trump and his associates were allegedly engaged in massive money laundering. And their clients were often less than savory.
The Bayrock Bucks
One of the connections between Trump and Russia can be found in the Bayrock Group, a development company that had offices in Trump Tower and provided financing for both Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump on a series of business ventures between 2002 and 2011. The most extensive of the deals was part of a project in Manhattan, the Trump Soho Hotel.
But the source of Bayrock’s money is what will no doubt be of particular interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Bayrock was the crucial link between several “dark projects” in the U.S. and Europe that provided funding to Trump and his business ventures. Bayrock used Icelandic banks to launder money from government investors, legislators, and others.
One of those “others” was no less than Felix Sater, a man who did business deals with Russian and American organized crime groups. When Sater got caught up in a federal sting operation, he agreed to testify against others in exchange for leniency. It has long been alleged that Sater, who was born in Moscow in 1966, has extensive ties to Russia and the Russian mafia.
When he’s been asked about his dealings with Sater, the president has repeatedly said he barely knows him. That’s both odd and disingenuous when you consider that Sater has met with Trump on numerous occasions at Trump Tower and also agreed to show the Trump children around Moscow when they visited. Sater has also been known to carry and hand out Trump Organization business cards.
Sater also has connections to Trump’s private attorney, Michael Cohen, and disgraced National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
And Sater is a key figure in the Bayrock Group, which provided those much-needed funds for Trump businesses.
Asked about his relationship with Sater, Trump commented:
“He was supposedly very close to the government of the United States as a witness or something. I don’t think he was connected to the Mafia. He got into trouble because he got into a barroom fight.”
Sater did indeed go to prison for 15 months in 1993 for slashing a man’s face open with a margarita glass during a bar fight. And Sater later fled to Moscow when federal prosecutors charged him and his associates with laundering about $40 million from elderly Holocaust survivors as part of a scheme devised and run by mafia associates Sater had befriended.
Sater Brings The $$$
Trump and Sater also did business via Bayrock on other construction projects, including:
- International hotel-condo projects in Turkey, Poland and, Ukraine.
- Trump International Hotel and Tower project in Fort Lauderdale, which ended in foreclosure.
Critical funding for the Florida hotel was provided by an Icelandic investment bank named the FL Group. FL Group was known to launder money for various organized crime figures in the United States, Europe, and Russia.
In May, the president once again tried to pretend he has no ties to Russia, tweeting that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had given testimony in which he said Trump had no connections to Russian entities:
Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is "no evidence" of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2017
But Clapper told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the president had completely twisted his words, adding:
“In our intelligence community assessment, we made the point that we could not make that call. The intelligence community has neither the authority, the expertise or the resources to make that judgment. The only thing we said was we saw no evidence of influencing voter tallies at any of the 50 states. But we were not in a position to judge whether — what actual outcome on the election.”
Once again, as he often does, Trump heard what he wanted to, but Clapper was clear that he never exonerated the president:
“My practice during the six and a half years that I was at DNI was always to defer to the director of the FBI, be it Director Bob Mueller or Director Jim Comey on whether, when, and what to tell me about a counterintelligence investigation when the possibility was there that this could devolve into some sort of a criminal investigation.
“So I don’t know if there was collusion or not. I don’t know if there is evidence of collusion or not, nor should I have in this particular context.”
One person determined to find the connections between Donald Trump and all things Russia is Robert Mueller. And when he does, the Pandora’s box of Trump’s life and business connections could wind up bringing down an administration and the entire Trump empire.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org