Trump’s Dirty Money and How It Will Bring Him Down

Imagine you had a lot of money—say billions of dollars of dirty money stolen from businesses, banks or taxpayers. Money that is totally illegal to move around internationally, but is TOO MUCH MONEY to ignore.  How do you clean that money up?

Enter Donald Trump.

Trump had two plans that he repeated over the years to steal money from people. The first one went like this:  Trump would say, people love my brand and trust my name, so much so that they are willing to put up big money for one of my projects because they “trust” that they will get their money back or get the product they are putting the money up for—say a condo or luxury apartment in a high-rise building.

Trump would put his name all over the marketing materials, put a picture of himself with his daughter on the cover of a fancy binder used to sell the product, maybe even put his name on the top of a high-rise building. People would put up big deposits or otherwise invest money.  But oops!! the deal would fall through–and never because it was Trump’s fault of course, and those deposits–sometimes millions of dollars worth, would disappear.  Never into Donald’s pocket though, of course.

If you want an example of this, see Trump’s Baja California condo scam.

But that’s small potatoes.  The big money for Trump–the billions–came from helping people with lots of dirty money take that money, like money stolen from Russian oil companies or Georgian banks, and make it “clean.”  In exchange for a fee, of course.

Here’s how it worked: the people with the dirty money would come in, “invest it” in a project that of course had Trump’s name all of over it, so it could be trusted as totally legitimate.  The money, however, would all get funneled through the project and back into the scammer’s own pockets as “profits” from the construction.  Trump, meanwhile, would get a 12% cut just for letting them use his name and his reputation as a way to sell it.  In exchange, Trump would never ask a question about where that money came from.

The project would then fail, either before it got started or after it was built.  But by that time it wouldn’t matter, because all of the real money would have been “cleaned” through the project and Trump would have been paid.  In fact, that would be the real point, to clean the money, not to build an actual successful project.

This type of repeated business of failure wasn’t just “bad luck” or “bad business.”  The failure was intended all along because nobody investigates failure.  And Trump’s construction projects and construction licensing deals repeatedly failed. But of course, Trump still made money off the deals.  They didn’t fail because they sucked (perhaps some did), they instead purposely and intentionally failed because people never look closely into a failed project.  That makes a failed project a perfect cover for laundering money, committing fraud, making “dirty” money into “clean” money, or using the project as a fake failure to shield illegal acts.  Nobody would bother to look at a failed business.

So now let’s say you are a foreign government and you are looking for dirt on Trump either because he’s running for president or just because you always keep track of the big shots who do business in and around your country.  Trump would have qualified as far back as the 1980s.

And let’s say now that you discovered a deal (or several) where someone was taking money stolen from a bank or secretly taking money from a bank they work for as an executive and investing it in their own personal side business in order to put the money in their own pocket.  And let’s say you figured out that person wanted in on the Trump money laundering train in order to “clean” the “dirty” money.

And now you, as the foreign government, discover and get all the evidence to prove the following: A man came up with a big fancy building in a former soviet country like Georgia, even though nobody in Georgia wanted to buy units in a big fancy building. But who cares, the point was to use the project as a shell to cover up the “cleaning” of “dirty” money.  The guy brought in Trump to slap his name on it, and take 12% of the money.  Meanwhile, with Trump’s protection making it look like “legitimate business” the guy ran the rest of the money through the project to make the “dirty money” into “clean” money.

The deal, however, fell through after Trump got elected and then had to pull out of the deal because the spotlight was too bright.  But in the years before that, while the deal was moving forward, all of the documentation on the deal got into the hands of the foreign government, who went over all of it and figured out the entire scam and how Trump would directly profit from it and participated in financial crimes.

Now say that foreign government was actually the Russian government.

If you are the Russian government, you use that information to put pressure on Trump to do the things you want him to do.  Imagine you have information on multiple projects that were only shell projects with Trump’s name on them with the only purpose of “cleaning” money that is “dirty.”  It not only would make Trump look bad, but it would be clear undisputed evidence of financial crimes by Trump that could send him to jail.

If that sounds too crazy of a story, it’s not.  It’s a true story.

And this is where the Mueller investigation is going—into all of the shady deals Trump did, all of the dirty money Trump made clean, all of the fraud Trump covered up or participated in. You might ask yourself, what does that have to do with Trump being president?

It has to do with the fact that the information can be used against him.  Either to make him do stuff or pressure him not to do stuff…. “If you do X, we’ll release documents showing how you committed fraud and will go to jail.”

Russia knows about a lot of Trump’s illegal scams and has all the evidence to bury Trump.  And Russia is using that evidence to try to force Trump to do things that help Russia.  Why turn someone in when you can blackmail them instead and get even better things from it?

This would not only be grounds for locking Trump up, it would be grounds for impeachment–a president doing something for a foreign government that is extorting him and paying him at the same time wouldn’t make it.

It’s all about the money.

 

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Now That Michael Flynn Pled Guilty, What’s next for Donald Trump?

Now that Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn has pled guilty to a felony, people are wondering what it means.

The big ticket conversation item right now is that Trump tried to influence a foreign government before he took office and was a private citizen.  This would be a violation of the Logan Act.  The Logan Act, however, is a 200 year old criminal law and has never been used to prosecute or convict anyone in its entire history.  In fact only two people have even seen charges under the Logan Act, and neither were convicted.

So if the fact that Trump was conspiring with Flynn and others to influence Russia to take certain foreign policy actions before the election is not enough to go the distance, what else is there?

The second, stronger, but still fairly weak theory is that Trump and his team conspired with the Russian government to steal electronic data from Democrats.  This would be a computer crime.  But the record indicates that Trump and his flunkies only made contact with the Russians on this specific topic after the data was already stolen.  So without more information, it does not look like Trump asked Russia to steal the data (before the fact) or planned or conspired to steal it.

A sub-category of potential crimes in this area is a violation of campaign finance law.  It is illegal for a U.S. political candidate to take something of value from a foreign government during a campaign.  Something of value usually equates to campaign money or other assistance.  There’s evidence that Russia spent a lot of money on social media ads that directly benefited Trump.  There was also the famous meeting between one of Putin’s lawyers and Trump’s top campaign officials in Trump Tower.  And of course, Trump’s campaign directly benefited from all of the leaked Democrat emails.  So this could go somewhere, but the question would be how much involvement did Trump’s team have with the actions of the Russians?

Trump’s obvious defense would be, “I can’t tell the Russians how to spend their money, that’s up to them and I didn’t tell them how to do it during the campaign.”  There is some evidence suggesting he did try to tell the Russians how to help him during the campaign, but proving it beyond a reasonable doubt to get a criminal conviction, with what we know right now, would be difficult.

The third option goes back to Paul Manafort, who was indicted for, essentially, corruption and fraud by taking millions from a foreign government and laundering the money and taking a cut.  This could be why Trump has absolutely refused to release his tax returns–because they could show that he is on Russia’s payroll.  If it is the case that Trump was also on the take, and worked with Paul to take millions from the Russians in exchange for influence and favorable policy decisions, this would be a very serious criminal case of corruption, fraud, money laundering, and perhaps even treason against the president.

The third option would also go far to explain why Flynn, and Papadopoulos before him, intentionally lied to the FBI–a felony–about the campaign’s contacts with the Russians.  If Flynn and Papadopoulos knew that Trump and his team were taking millions from the Russians in exchange for helping the Russians (and it looks like Flynn was also taking money from the Russians), then any action taken on behalf or in coordination with Russia is clear evidence of serious criminal wrongdoing.  And the FBI would be the last people you would want to talk to about that.

If, on the other hand, we were still discussing potential Logan Act violations, it seems like the Trump Team, given their willingness to be loud mouths, would have basically said, “Yeah so what we talked to the Russians, we were about to take over the White House and we didn’t want Obama’s stupid decisions to get us off to a bad start.  So of course we talked to the Russians during the transition.  Of course we were talking to them a few weeks before we took office.  We were going to be in charge, so why wouldn’t we do that?”

This is probably why the Logan Act, while still good law, has never been effectively used in over 200 years and is doubtful to be the main dish in the Mueller investigation.  It’s all about the money at this point.

Trump’s National Security Advisor Mike Flynn Pleads Guilty to Felony

Trump’s former national security advisor Michael Flynn just agreed to become a felon. You don’t agree to become a felon and plead guilty to a serious crime unless you are getting something out of it. Flynn was facing more serious charges, and instead of rolling the dice, he turned rat on Trump and/or the vice president, Pence.

Per Business Insider reporter Natasha Bertrand:

This is a “clear sign” that Flynn is cooperating against Trump.  We also aren’t dealing with a hypothetical, we know Flynn has definitely pled guilty:

So what did Flynn give up to avoid more serious criminal charges? Per ABC news, Flynn is prepared to testify against Trump, members of his family and Trump’s staff. Flynn will testify that Trump, as a candidate (not as president), ordered him to contact Russians.  The “as a candidate” part is important because it’s illegal for a presidential candidate to be coordinating with a foreign government, especially one that is an enemy to the US, like the Russian government.

https://www.mrctv.org/embed/525596

According to Bloomberg news, Flynn also admitted that he had a call with Trump at Trump’s private resort, Mar-A-Lago, to plan how they would approach the Russian Ambassador. That’s is conspiracy, folks.

Prosecutor Brandon L. Van Grack said in court that “a very senior member of the transition team directed” Flynn to contact the Russian ambassador at one point. At another, Flynn “called a senior official of the Trump team at Mar-a-Lago” to discuss a United Nations resolution that Flynn talked about with Kislyak.

Trump’s inner circle is now shitting bricks, they are absolutely freaking out and going crazy, they are very scared and in very big trouble.  One person “very close” to the president said that the Flynn development is “very very bad” because Flynn knows a lot of Trump’s criminal secrets, and he will tell them all to the Feds to avoid going to jail for a very long time.

We have also have a fact statement filed in federal court about Flynn. You can read it here. It’s very obvious that more people are going to be arrested over this. And since Flynn was so high up in the food chain, there are only a few directions this can go in:

  • Trump
  • Trump’s family (sons, daughter, son in law)
  • Attorney General Sessions
  • Vice President Mike Pence
  • Other high-level Trump campaign officials (Bannon, Conway, etc.)

This is history in the making, folks.

Attorney General Wants Trump To Fire Him

The morning started with reports that president Donald Trump is very angry at attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump is angry that Sessions refused to take control over the investigation into Russian hacking and campaign spying, and instead “recused” himself, or in other words, removed himself, from the investigation.  Trump was probably angry because he thought Sessions would be there to cover up Trump’s ties to Russia:

“I thought that was a pretty damning report for the president,” Miller said. “Why would the president care if Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation or not unless he wanted him to exert inappropriate influence over it. It shouldn’t really matter who’s leading the investigation unless you want the person in charge to somehow steer it in a way that benefits you.”

Article after article kept coming, talking about how pissed off Trump was at Sessions, and explaining that the Trump’s tweets about the “travel ban” were really a way for him to blow off some of the steam he has built up about Sessions.  Trump effectively strangled the justice department’s case before it ever had a chance of making it before the supreme court:

The discontent was on display on Monday in a series of stark early-morning postings on Twitter in which the president faulted his own Justice Department for its defense of his travel ban on visitors from certain predominantly Muslim countries.

After all the bad stories about Sessions, it then was leaked to the press that Sessions actually offered to resign.  He’s had enough with El Trumpo, and seems to be who Trump is taking out his anger on these days.  Could it be that El Trumpo is getting scared?

As for Sessions, he’s ready to retire and pursue his life-long dream!

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Trumps Crimes Aren’t Just About Russian Hacking and Conflicts of Interest

The big complaints we’ve had about Trump so far are that (1) he refused to divest himself from his private businesses, thereby creating a conflict of interest and a potential violation of the emoluments clause of the United States constitution; (2) that Trump’s team “coordinated” with the Russians in hacking the Hillary Clinton campaign and otherwise worked with the Russians to manipulate the presidential campaign; and (3) obstruction of justice (or in other words, trying to screw up the FBI’s investigation on purpose).

Today, however, we learn that the FBI’s investigation is far deeper than who talked to the Russians and when.  We know this based on who is being put on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. We have Justice Department “fraud chief” Andrew Weissman.  Weissman was the director of the Enron Task Force in 2002, which if you might remember brought down Enron and their shady accountant company Arthur Anderson. He was also “co-chair” of heavyweight private law firm Jenner & Block’s White Collar Practice Group where he “worked on a broad range of matters including ones involving securities fraud, antitrust, health care fraud and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.”

These are not experts on conflicts of interest and espionage. No, they are experts in fraud, white collar crime, corruption and illegal business practices. You build your team based on the game you are playing. And it appears the game here is fraud and corruption, and not hacking. This indicates that the investigation into Trump is far more serious than what games he played with the Russians to take down Hillary.

It’s clear that the Russians have significant leverage over Trump. We aren’t talking about pee-pee tapes, we’re talking about wide spread fraud and criminal activities.

Kushner Becomes an FBI Target

We learned today that Jared Kushner is a person of interest in the FBI investigation into Trump campaign connections to Russia.  Coincidentally, it was also reported recently that Kushner pushed very hard to have Comey fired and also pushed to retaliate for the appointment of a special counsel.  He wanted to fight the investigations into Trumpland very hard—as if it was the fight of his life.

But what has Kushner done to become a potential target of a federal criminal investigation?  We know that back in December 2016, Kushner met with a Russian banker at the request of the Russian ambassador to the United States.

This raises questions because “Russian bankers” usually are agents of the Russian government and work very hard to move dirty Russian money around the world and help cover up Russian financial crimes.  In fact, a Russian banker was sentenced to 30 months in prison after he was prosecuted in federal court in New York.  The charge? Conspiring to work for Russian foreign intelligence services in the United States.  The prosecutor who took down the Russian banker?  The U.S. attorney that Trump fired earlier this year.

As for Kushner’s meeting in December 2016 with Banker Sergey Gorkov, Gorkov is also someone on the feds’ radar. Gorkov used to serve on the Executive Board and was Vice President of another Russian bank, Sberbank. (source)  This week Trump named Marc Kasowitz, an attorney who previously represented Sberbank in federal court, as his private counsel for the Russia investigation.  Kasowitz has another Russian client: a company operated by Oleg Deripaska, a man who Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, signed a $10M annual contract with to influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States.  Manafort’s contract with Deripaska had one major purpose—to benefit President Vladimir Putin’s government.

Trump and his buddies are pushing their way to the top of the FBI’s list.

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Russia Investigation Targets Current Senior White House Official, Trump Admits to Firing Comey over Russia

Just when you thought the week might be calming down, the NYTimes drops the bombshell that Trump told the Russian spies, who he invited to the Oval Office, that he fired Comey for being a nutj ob, and to “take the pressure off” the Russia investigation.  Trump’s spokesman, Spicer, refused to deny that Trump made the comment. Which either means it’s on tape or video or that there were so many witnesses to the statement it would be impossible to deny it.

Then, a few minutes later, just as soon as Trump’s plane went “wheels up” for his trip to the Middle East, the WaPo dropped another bombshell: a current, and very senior member of Trump’s White House team has been swept into the FBI’s Russia probe.

We do not know who the senior official is.  However, based on what we know, the best guess seems to be on Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner. This is based on his track record: he forgot to mention on his security clearance forms that he had a meeting with Russians, met with a Russian banker with direct ties to Putin, did not want to appoint a special counsel, and pushed hard for Comey’s firing.  Kushner has also “lawyered up.”  Kushner’s dad is also a known criminal felon for . . . you guessed it, illegal campaign contributions, among other things.

According to Washington Post reporters on Twitter, the day is not over . . .