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Donald Trump's links to the mob

There's evidence which casts doubt on Trump's wealth claims and reveals his history of relationships with figures connected to organised crime.

BBC Newsnight

Donald Trump now looks like the front-runner to be the Republican candidate for the US presidency. One of his big appeals is his business success - and his claim that his wealth means he can't be bought and sold. But there's evidence which not only casts doubt on Trump's wealth claims - but also reveals his history of business relationships with figures connected to organised crime. John Sweeney reports.

More on Donald Trump's connections to the mob.

What happens when a Confidential Informant becomes President?
Greg Olear

IN THE EARLY 1980s it was decided—by whom, and for what ultimate purpose, we can’t say for sure—that Donald John Trump would build a casino complex in Atlantic City, New Jersey—probably the most mobbed-up municipality in the state. Dealing with the mafia might have dissuaded some developers from pursuing a Boardwalk Empire, but not Trump. He was uniquely suited to forge ahead. Donald’s father, the Queens real estate developer Fred Trump, had worked closely with Genovese-associated and -owned construction entities since building the Shore Haven development in 1947, when Donald was still in diapers (the first time around). Fred was an early mob adopter, the underworld equivalent of an investor who bought shares of Coca-Cola stock in 1919. The timelines is important to remember here. Organized crime did not exist in any meaningful way in the United States until Prohibition. Born in 1905, Fred Trump was just two years younger than Meyer Lansky, the gangster who more or less invented money laundering. Thus, Donald Trump is second generation mobbed-up. When Donald first ventured from Queens to the pizzazzier borough of Manhattan in the seventies, he entered into a joint business deal with “Big” Paul Castellano, head of the Gambino syndicate, and Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, of the Genovese family he knew well through his father and their mutual lawyer Roy Cohn. As part of this arrangement, Trump agreed to buy concrete from a company operated jointly by the two families—and pay a hefty premium for the privilege. Only then, with double mob approval, could he move forward with the Trump Tower and Trump Plaza projects. (Among Cohn’s other clients at the time was Rupert Murdoch, whom he introduced to Trump in the seventies; you would be hard pressed to find three more atrocious human beings).

Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson testified that the real estate mogul built relationships with Russian gangsters, who were themselves tied to the Russian government.
By Alan Neuhauser, Staff Writer

The founder of an opposition research firm that assembled a now-infamous dossier on Donald Trump during his presidential campaign told congressional investigators in November that Trump, as a real estate developer, had ties to Russian mafia figures who appeared to be laundering money through Trump-owned and Trump-licensed properties. "It gradually reached a point where it seemed like most of the people around Trump had a connection to Russian organized crime or Russia in one way or another," Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson said, according to a transcript of the interview released Thursday. Simpson and his firm, which does investigative and consulting work for political campaigns and other groups, have been central figures in the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Kremlin and members of Trump's team. His testimony to the House intelligence committee offered some of the most explicit allegations yet concerning Trump. Simpson said Trump, in his real estate deals earlier in his career, apparently built relationships with Italian Mafia figures who controlled broad swaths of the construction industry in New York City, including cement suppliers and labor unions. "We also had sort of more broadly learned that Mr. Trump had long time associations with Italian organized crime figures. And as we pieced together the early years of his biography, it seemed as if during the early part of his career he had connections to a lot of Italian mafia figures, and then gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures," Simpson testified. By the 2000s, he continued, "various criminals were buying the properties." Asked by the House intelligence committee's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, whether these transactions would be known by or on behalf of the Russian government, Simpson offered a one-word answer: "Yes."

By Jonathan Chait

On October 10, federal agents arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman at the airport, where they had one-way tickets to Vienna. President Trump feigned disinterest. “I don’t know those gentlemen,” he told reporters. “Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You’d have to ask Rudy, I just don’t know.” Trump did know the gentlemen. A week ago, CNN found Trump had at least ten interactions with Parnas and Fruman, straining his denials beyond all credibility. Friday night, CNN unearthed an even more dangerous piece of news. Parnas and Fruman, along with their partner, Rudy Giuliani, met with Trump in the White House during its annual Hanukkah party. Parnas told two people that Trump tasked them with pressuring Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden. Trump’s dishonesty is so comprehensive that the revelation he lied about knowing Parnas and Fruman — the sort of lie that would badly damage a normal president — barely registers. The fact that he allegedly commissioned Parnas’s work directly might prove more damaging. Here Trump recruited a pair of sleazeballs with ties to the Russian mafia to communicate with the Ukrainian government on his behalf. “President outsources his foreign policy to gangsters” is the sort of charge that ought to draw more attention than it has. Perhaps more dangerous still is the nature of Parnas and Fruman’s work in Ukraine. Parnas, Fruman, and Giuliani were not only interested in getting Ukraine to investigate Trump’s domestic adversaries. They were also looking to line their own pockets in the process.

There’s a reason why Trump’s behavior is so “Mafia-like.”

Following the White House’s release of the transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff called Trump’s pressure on Zelensky to help him smear former Vice-President Joe Biden, “a classic Mafia-like shakedown of a foreign leader."

Trump, who praised the mob in 2013 on David Letterman, has a habit of seeing the good in those deemed beyond the pale
Ed Pilkington

Is Donald Trump behaving like a mafia boss? Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House intelligence committee, thinks so. Schiff said the way Trump leaned on Ukraine, seeking dirt on political rival Joe Biden was a “classic, mafia-like shakedown”. Many others have made the same comparison. But it doesn’t take Congress or the Twittersphere to establish Trump’s affinity for the mob. The real estate developer and former reality star has talked about it himself – on late-night TV. In 2013, three years before Trump’s presidential victory, David Letterman asked him about it bluntly on his CBS talkshow. “Have you ever knowingly done business with organized crime?” the host asked. Trump grimaced, then said: “I’ve really tried to stay away from them as much as possible. “You know, growing up in New York and doing business in New York, I would say there might have been one of those characters along the way, but generally speaking I like to stay away from that group.”

The president and his associates have long histories with the Mafia figures who populate Scorsese’s film
By Seth Hettena

Martin Scorsese’s new film, The Irishman, conjures up a lost world. It depicts an era when the Mafia was so powerful that it set off alarms in the Kennedy White House, and Scorsese even hints that organized crime was behind JFK’s assassination. But by the end of the three-hour-plus movie, the nostalgia fades and so does the pinkie-ring finery. Every made man Scorsese introduces to the viewer is snuffed out until all that’s left is Frank Sheeran (played by Robert DeNiro), a disheveled, wheelchair-bound ex-hit man who’s haunted by his memories. At the film’s end, a pair of FBI agents plead with Sheeran to talk about his victims, telling him there’s no reason to keep silent anymore because there’s no one left to protect. “Everybody’s dead, Mr. Sheeran,” one agent says. “They’re all gone.” Well, many still remember. One person who knew the real-life mob families that show up in The Irishman is President Donald Trump. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Trump’s buildings and his casinos attracted underworld figures like “Fat Tony” Salerno, the Fedora-wearing, cigar-chomping boss of the Genovese crime family. Salerno, who’s portrayed in the film by Domenick Lombardozzi, supplied the fast-drying concrete that built Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Salerno also controlled the local concrete workers union, and when a strike shut down construction in Manhattan in 1982, the one of the few buildings that wasn’t affected was Trump Tower.

Journalist Craig Unger talks Russia, Trump, and “one of the greatest intelligence operations in history.”
By Sean Illing

On November 9, 2016, just a few minutes after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, a man named Vyacheslav Nikonov approached a microphone in the Russian State Duma (their equivalent of the US House of Representatives) and made a very unusual statement. “Dear friends, respected colleagues!” Nikonov said. “Three minutes ago, Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in US presidential elections, and a second ago Trump started his speech as an elected president of the United States of America, and I congratulate you on this.” Nikonov is a leader in the pro-Putin United Russia Party and, incidentally, the grandson of Vyacheslav Molotov — after whom the “Molotov cocktail” was named. His announcement that day was a clear signal that Trump’s victory was, in fact, a victory for Putin’s Russia. Longtime journalist Craig Unger opens his new book, House of Trump, House of Putin, with this anecdote. The book is an impressive attempt to gather up all the evidence we have of Trump’s numerous connections to the Russian mafia and government and lay it all out in a clear, comprehensive narrative. The book claims to unpack an “untold story,” but it’s not entirely clear how much of it is new. One of the hardest things to accept about the Trump-Russia saga is how transparent it is. So much of the evidence is hiding in plain sight, and somehow that has made it harder to accept. But make no mistake: Trump’s ties to shady Russian figures stretch back decades, and Unger diligently pieces them together in one place. Although Unger doesn’t provide any evidence that Trump gave the Russians anything concrete in return for their help, the case he makes for how much potential leverage the Russians had over Trump is pretty damning.

The impeachment investigations will have as constant background Trump’s most important and long lasting connections to Russia—through alleged mobsters.
Michael Weiss, Casey Michel

Donald Trump knows absolutely everybody but can’t remember their names or faces, especially when they’re in trouble, and even more so when their mother tongue is Russian. Last month Congress began its inquiry into whether or not the president committed an impeachable offense (or offenses) by withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine until Kyiv agreed to dig up dirt on his likely rival for the White House in next year’s election. Since then, America has grown acquainted with enough characters from the post-Soviet mob milieu to fill the Star Wars cantina. Some are newcomers to Trumpland, thanks to the tireless efforts of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, whose legal reputation has swung pendulously from that of latter-day Eliot Ness to bug-eyed conspiracy theorist more at home with low-rent Ukrainian Capones. But many of these scrofulous figures are familiar from their prior appearances in the two-year-long Mueller investigation. Russian oligarchs, bankers and two-bit grifters featured more often in that doorstop report than suspected or probable spies. That was surely no accident.

He apparently lied under oath to deny he associated with organized crime figures.
David Corn

Last week, media coverage of Donald Trump may have hit an inflection point, when major news outlets, while covering Trump’s latest birther shenanigans, characterized the GOP presidential nominee’s remarks as a lie. Though Trump has scored more pants-on-fire false statements than any other candidate in this campaign, mainstream news outlets have struggled over whether and how to use the L-word when reporting on him. With this birther-driven breakthrough in coverage, there now remain plenty of brazenly untrue assertions—deliberate lies or not—uttered by Trump that warrant close examination. One topic ripe for such scrutiny is Trump’s associations with organized crime. For years during his business career, Trump worked or associated with proven or alleged mobsters. (Trump’s longtime lawyer, the thuggish and deceased Roy Cohn, repped numerous Mafia bosses, some of whom were connected to Trump projects.) Yet when asked about his links to the mob, Trump has repeatedly made false comments and has contradicted himself—to such a degree it seems he has flat-out lied about these relationships, even when he was under oath. If elected president, Trump would be in charge of federal law enforcement. So his attitude toward the mob could well be deemed a highly significant campaign issue—as could his long record of not telling the truth about his ties to organized crime. Here are some of the strongest examples of when Trump has spoken falsely on this matter.

It’s unsettling to learn President Donald Trump has a record of business involvements with organized crime figures, both American and Russian. Some Trump defenders say it’s impossible to conduct major New York construction and real estate deals without meeting mob members — but the president’s pattern is conspicuous. A London Review of Books article listed 11 known crime figures who participated in Trump projects — including notorious mob lawyer Roy Cohn. The journal said Trump’s career represents “the triumph of an underworld of predators, hustlers, mobsters, clubhouse politicians and tabloid sleaze.” An Alternet report was headlined “Trump has Deep Links to Organized Crime.” It said mob figures in Russia laundered money through Trump deals. Consider Felix Sater, who was spotlighted last week by TV commentator Rachel Maddow. Newsweek added this record: Born in Russia, Sater came to America and developed mob connections. He went to prison in 1993 for stabbing a man in the face with a broken glass.

Author claims he has “encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime”
Brian Flood

Politico published a lengthy report yesterday that claims presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has “a pattern of business dealings with mob figures.” The story is written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who has been investigating ties between Trump and the Mafia for “years.” The former Atlantic City reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer has also published a book, “Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business.” Johnston claims that over the years he has “encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime.” Here are the five most damning items contained in the report.

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