Trump Fills The Swamp And Adds New Russia Connections
May 11, 2018
From his personal lawyer accepting corporate payments to influence the president, to shady financing and new Russia connections, to his administration’s continued corruption, this week has made it abundantly clear that Trump has failed to drain the swamp. See for yourself:
A bombshell report revealed Trump changed his business practices, spending more cash than it appeared he had access to in order to buy real estate in an unusual all-cash fashion that made little sense.
Washington Post’s Plumline: “Trump has told us less about his personal and business interests than any other president in modern history.”
Washington Post’s Plumline: “Why did Trump suddenly change decades of habit — not to mention established real estate practices — and turn to an all-cash strategy? Why did he borrow money to purchase and maintain some properties and not others? And, most important: where, exactly, did the money for all this come from?”
Washington Post's David Fahrenthold: “Usually, the only people who would put this much money—their own cash—into golf course transactions would be people who basically had so much money that they didn’t need to make money work for them. Imagine, like, the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi, or the sovereign wealth fund of Norway.”
So far, there’s one sensible answer for how Trump could make the purchases that seems to keep coming up: hidden foreign financing.
Eric Trump Eric Trump reportedly told author James Dobson in August 2013 about Trump Organization golf course financing: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.”
Michael Bamberger: “There’s really two large purchases that Trump has made in the realm of golf and that’s Doral and that’s Turnberry. … I have to be careful in how I describe this person, again to protect them from any blowback, but they are in Trump’s orbit, they play at his golf clubs, they know him personally, they know a lot of people in his inner circle, and this person has a finance background, and he was able to see a lot of the documents related to these sales and he feels like the Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is going to be very interested because this person’s belief is that there were foreign banks and foreign lenders involved.”
Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer took millions of dollars in secret payments from companies, including one tied to a Russian oligarch.
Washington Post: “In the wake of Trump’s election, corporate clients paid Cohen at least $2.95 million through a company called Essential Consultants, according to figures confirmed by the companies.”
New York Times: “Transactions adding up to at least $4.4 million flowed through Essential Consultants starting shortly before Mr. Trump was elected president and continuing to this January, the records show.”
New York Times: “Among the previously unreported transactions were payments last year of about $500,000 from Columbus Nova, an investment firm in New York whose biggest client is a company controlled by Viktor Vekselberg, the Russian oligarch.”
Washington Post: “At the same time that he was collecting $50,000 a month from AT&T, Cohen was being paid large sums to advise other companies on a broad variety of issues, including the Affordable Care Act, accounting practices and real estate.”
Washington Post: “The companies cited a range of reasons for hiring Cohen. A Korean defense company competing for a U.S. contract said it paid him $150,000 to advise it on accounting practices. A global pharmaceutical company said it paid him $1.2 million to provide insight into health-care policy — money it said it was required to keep paying even after concluding that Cohen had little to offer. A telecommunication company said it turned to him simply to better understand the Trump administration.”
The payments to Cohen are another disturbing example of possible connections between team Trump and the Russian government, and how suspicious cash is nothing new in Trump’s orbit.
USA Today Editorial: “The former payment, from a New York company called Columbus Nova that says it was seeking Cohen's investment expertise, is one of the most disturbing examples yet of a possible Kremlin connection to Team Trump. … The latter payments are further evidence of how President Trump and close associates are not draining the swamp, as Trump promised to do, but rather creating whole new wetlands.”
New York Times Editorial: “This sort of suspicious cash was at the heart of a recent report by The Washington Post that found that in the decade before the election, Mr. Trump did something unusual for a real estate developer — he all but stopped borrowing money. Multiple bankruptcies had no doubt exhausted his welcome at any reputable bank, so perhaps the man who called himself the ‘King of Debt’ became more prudent, or he simply faced reality. What happened next, though, was more unusual. Beginning in 2006, the Trump Organization spent $400 million in cash on various projects.”
New York Times Editorial: “Russians and cash — they’ve been a part of Mr. Trump’s life for years, and now they’re elements of the investigation into whether his campaign conspired with Moscow to corrupt American democracy. Mr. Trump’s affection toward the Russian president has led many to ask, “What does Putin have on Trump?” Maybe the ledgers will tell.”
Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was revealed to have used her official office and position in ways that seem to benefit her family’s shipping business.
Politico: “In at least a dozen interviews with Chinese and Chinese-American media outlets since her nomination, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has appeared beside her shipping magnate father, whose company carries goods between the United States and Asia, and who has given Chao and her husband at least $5 million in the past 10 years. In many of the videos, James Chao is introduced as founder and chairman of the Foremost Group shipping company, and, in discussing a 2016 biography about his life, speaks proudly of his daughter’s role as secretary of transportation, as she sits beaming by his side. One interview with New China Press published on April 12, 2017, features the pair sitting in what appears to be the Department of Transportation, with DOT flags in view behind the interviewer.”
Politico: “Experts in government ethics said Elaine Chao’s media appearances with her father might violate a regulation that prohibits federal employees from using their public office for their ‘own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity.’”
From cronyism to extreme secrecy: there are currently at least 11 federal investigations underway into Scott Pruitt’s actions at the EPA.
New York Times: “Over the past few months, as Mr. Pruitt’s problems have mounted — he is now the subject of at least 11 federal investigations and some Republicans have called for his resignation — Mr. Trump has continued to support his E.P.A. chief on Twitter and in public and private remarks.”
Politico: “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt placed a polluted California area on his personal priority list of Superfund sites targeted for ‘immediate and intense’ action after conservative radio and television host Hugh Hewitt brokered a meeting between him and lawyers for the water district that was seeking federal help to clean up the polluted Orange County site.”
New York Times: “Details from the breakfast, and dozens of other official appearances from Mr. Pruitt’s scandal-plagued first year at the E.P.A., have until now been hidden from public view as a result of an extraordinary effort by Mr. Pruitt and his aides to block disclosure of the bulk of his daily schedule.”