Since Donald Trump was appointed to be President by the electoral college, the investigations into his ties to Russia have been essentially non-stop: From the FBI to Congress to Robert Mueller’s special counsel, Trump’s dealings with not just the Russian government but with billionaires and mafia-types have been looked into like perhaps no other American has ever been investigated.
The reason is plain — every intelligence agency in the country has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election. There are, of course, longer-reaching investigations into Russia than simply their efforts to disrupt our democracy, but everything that has been investigated about the country’s officials has come to a head under the banner of the election of a leader they consider friendly to their nation.
Craig Unger, who we have written about before here at DC Tribune, is an investigative journalist with a book that came out two weeks ago called House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia. Unger has been in high demand for interviews, and one of the best we’ve heard so far came out yesterday on Dworkin Report featuring Unger speaking with columnist Grant Stern.
The two writers discuss the history of Trump’s dealings with Russia, beginning more than three decades ago in the shady New York real estate world that was essentially captained by Trump.
As a matter of course, investigators have looked into how Trump built his empire, and more often than not, when doing even a cursory glance at Trump’s business dealings even from as long ago as the early 1980’s, there are Russian names that pop up — in more ways than simply the odds via population density that he would be selling to or buying from Russians.
One example is the sale of 5 luxury condos in Donald’s Manhattan high-rise, Trump Tower. The buyer in 1984 was a 38-year-old Russian immigrant named David Bogatin who came to America in 1977, reportedly with only $3 to his name. By the time he plunked down $6 million for the midtown condos, he was clearly doing much better than the average immigrant. It was clearly, to investigators, a front for organized crime. Jonathan Winer, the deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement during the Clinton years, told Unger that Russians were getting heavily involved in real estate in the 80’s and 90’s as a way to launder money:
It didn’t matter that you paid too much, because the real estate values would rise, and it was a way of turning dirty money into clean money. It was done very systematically, and it explained why there are so many high-rises where the units were sold but no one is living in them.”
Fast-forward a few years and investigations, and Bogatin is literally pleading guilty to crimes involving the Russian mob.
None of that is speculation, so let me just recap that real quick: Donald Trump sold a bunch of condos for much more than they were worth to a man who got the money to buy them from the Russian mob.
On its face, that’s money laundering.
Couple that with Trump’s desperate attempts to distance himself from Felix Sater, a name you peripherally remember as a villain, and it becomes stark: Trump has extensive ties to the mafia and has likely been laundering money for the Russian mob since at least 1984, if not earlier. Trump’s early denials of any involvement at all with Russia at the outset of the FBI investigation and Mueller’s special counsel only served to amplify his later reversals, in which he employs the tried-and-true “of course I did, and there’s nothing wrong with it” defense.
You can listen to Stern and Unger’s conversation here — and thanks to the Dworkin Report for bringing this story back to the surface before sending readers shopping for Unger’s new book.
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