One of the reasons I have been inclined to believe claims that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian hackers and perhaps even the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential campaign is because of Donald Trump's long history of cutting deals with organized crime, including Russian crime figures, to further his own financial interests and real estate projects. Moreover, real estate investments provide a wonderful means to launder dirty money and walk away with "clean" funds one the real estate investment is sold. As an added bonus, for Russian crime figures, foreign real estate investments provide a means to set aside a "safe nest egg" should things go down the toilet on the home front. A piece at Raw Story looks at Trump's ugly history of dealing with crime figures and how it has helped fuel the investigations into possible collusion - and treason - with Russian figures and the Kremlin. Here are excerpts:
As President Trump discovers the prerogative of unilaterally making war, the media gaze has turned away from the ongoing FBI, House and Senate investigation of his Russia ties to the simpler dramas of cruise missiles, big bombs, and tough but loose talk on North Korea.Yet even “the mother of all bombs” cannot obliterate the accumulating body of evidence about his relationship with Russian organized crime figures and the not unrelated question about whether he and his entourage colluded with Russian officials in the 2016 presidential election. The story, notes Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, is “Hiding in plain sight.”
The evidence of pre-election collusion between Trump and the Russians, while growing, is far from definitive. The evidence on Trump’s organized crime ties is stronger. Says Marshall:
“If we’d never heard about Russian intelligence hacking of the 2016 election or Carter Page or Paul Manafort or Sergei Kislyak this [Trump’s organized crime connections] would seem like an extraordinarily big deal. And indeed it is an extraordinarily big deal.”
Chronologically speaking, Trump’s ties to organized crime figures came first. Mutually beneficial transactions dating back to the 1990s led to closer relations in the 2000s and culminated in the contacts during the 2016 campaign. It all began with Russians who wanted to get their money out of the country.
As Donald Trump Jr., executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, told the “Bridging U.S. and Emerging Markets Real Estate” conference in September 2008 (on the basis, he said, of his own “half dozen trips to Russia in 18 months”):
“[I]n terms of high-end product influx into the United States, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
A lot of this Russian organized crime money flowed through Cyprus, and one of its largest banks, the Bank of Cyprus. The bank’s chairman, Wilbur Ross, is now secretary of commerce. When senators considering Ross’ nomination asked about Cyprus, Ross said Trump had forbidden him from answering questions on the subject.
Not coincidentally, Illinois congressman Mike Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, recently traveled to Cyprus to investigate, according to the Daily Beast. . . . . the fact that Russians launder their money there to avoid sanctions, and the fact that key U.S. and Russia players were there—all make it really important for the Russia investigation,” Quigley explained in an interview.
According to the Associated Press, the records of Manafort’s Cypriot transactions were requested by the U.S. Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which works internationally with agencies to track money laundering and the movement of illicit funds around the globe.
The sheer proliferation of such contact indicates, at a minimum, that Russian organized crime figures felt comfortable in the Trump milieu.
Jonathan Winer, former deputy assistant secretary of state for law enforcement in the Clinton administration, says that he was investigating Semion Mogilevich 20 years ago when “the brainy don” (as he was known) pioneered the laundering criminal proceeds through quasi-legitimate companies in the United States, especially in high-end real estate. . . . “These ties link up, coalesce, organize and resolve,” Winer says. These are “relationships that make some sense. So we need to get below what we can see on the surface and see what actually happened. … I don’t know who’s going to be indicted, but boy, do I know this: the American people needs to be to get the facts, and then justice can be done.”
Personally, I wonder when and what will be enough o force some of our "friends" who voted for Trump to finally pull their heads out of their asses and open their eyes to reality.