Author David Cay Johnston on Trump:
“The people he brought in, want to destroy the existing order, they HATE the United States of America. We have a president who is not a loyal citizen… There was an ongoing conspiracy… between the Kremlin and the Trump Administration.”
Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston’s latest book, “It’s Even Worse Than You Think”, Video.
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (10/8/18)
Dear Fellow Readers,
This is a summary collection of lengthy reporting and writing that takes us convincingly and in great detail through the history of Trump’s ‘comeback’ fortune through Russian money laundering and Trump-Russia conspiracy to influence the election in Trump’s favor.
David Cay Johnston gets top billing against tough competition this cycle. The above remarks are between 4 minutes and 6 minutes into his comments on the video. Johnston then moves to relate history and Trump’s involvement with Russians going back to 1983 including a “quarter-of-a-$billion tax fraud”. Johnston’s book, It’s Even Worse Than You Think”, and this video go back to January of this year, but the content is timely.
There are two other significant publications that fit together to present a detailed picture of Trump’s history of fraud and his conspiracy with Russia. We have mentioned another Pulitzer Prize author, Greg Miller and his recent book, “The Apprentice: Trump, Russia And The Subversion Of American Democracy”. We’ll revisit this.
The third piece is based on a 14,000-word expose on the source of Trump’s wealth. It turns out he is not a self-made successful businessman who started with a ‘mere’ $1 million given to him from his father. It turns out that Trump started with the equivalent of $413 million transferred by his father through tax fraud. Little Donald was on his father’s payroll in 1950 … at age 3 receiving at least $200,000 a year.
The New York Times Special Investigation is here: Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father.
We’ll use a Daily Kos article that is based on this New York Times piece but also articles by the Financial Times, Daily Kos, Vanity Fair and the cooperating agreement for convicted felon and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. One other piece of information used is a 2016 New York Times story on Trump’s 1995 income tax returns with a breaking news statement of:
“The New York Times obtained records from 1995 showing that Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss. The figure is so substantial that it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal income tax for 18 years.”
Lots of T-rubles
The Daily Kos sets out to “paint a true picture of Donald Trump’s financial history”.
The story is a good read, we’ll highlight a few salient points that have shaped Trump to this point in his life. The article mostly starts with Trump’s responsibility-free time with his, “Rolls-Royce, no real job, and a regular spot on Page Six of the morning paper”, while around the same time fighting the government over charges of racial prejudice with the family business. This might feel familiar if not raw at the moment given Trump’s defense — like SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s — was an offense based on “outrage”.
By the 1990’s, Trump managed to accomplish this:
“If there was one great deal that Donald Trump pulled off in his life, it was this: He sank the company he chaired and ran off with its most valuable property while leaving the people who had trusted him to complete the project holding the bill.”
But more central to Trump-Russia:
“In the 18 months after it opened in April 1990, Trump’s casino became the gambling spot for a New York-based group of Russian mobsters. In just those few months, the casino was caught breaking banking laws 106 times. Trump settled with the IRS over these violations in 1998, but he didn’t stop. Money-laundering for Russian mobsters at the Taj Mahal continued, especially in the period before post 9/11 laws called for tighter accounting. In 2015, the Treasury Department assessed a record $10 million fine for “willful and repeated violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.””
By 2003 Trump was in trouble, as described by this Ivanka Trump story:
“In a 2003 interview, Ivanka Trump told a story of walking down Fifth Avenue and coming across a homeless man on the sidewalk outside of Trump Tower. According to Ivanka, Donald Trump said “You know, that guy has 8 billion dollars more than me,” because Trump was “in such extreme debt at that point.””
The story isn’t true and Ivanka used the story to underscore Trump’s supposed ‘comeback’. What was true was between “2004 and 2008” was that Trump, after he “bankrupted the biggest company in the Trump Organization” began buying properties. “With cash”.
Trump worked with “Belarusian-American Sergei Millian… a front for Russian government operations in the U.S.” to become the conduit for laundering Russian money. As famously explained by Donnie Jr. in 2008:
“That statement was backed up by Donald Trump Jr, who told a real-estate conference in 2008 that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” So much money, in fact, that it buoyed up Trump and allowed him to begin buying more properties, including a string of golf courses around the world.”
In summary, it was a good run for Trump:
“Eventually, those Russian funds in the U.S. started building up their own companies, like Bayrock, that put a little fictional insulation between them and Trump. But over the course of a decade, Trump brought in hundreds of millions—and quite likely over a billion—from oligarchs in the former Soviet states.”
Trump’s financial comeback was based on “hundreds of millions” from Russians. This was the relationship that underpinned Johnston’s description of Trump’s conspiracy between his campaign and Putin’s Kremlin.
From Salon we learn: Trump & Russia: Here is the smoking gun that explains his ‘subservience’ to Putin
The article is about Miller’s book ‘The Apprentice; Trump, Russia And The Subversion Of America’, and here is a summary of the case made:
“…Miller builds an exhaustive and authoritative case, as suggested in his subtitle, that a Rubicon was crossed in American political history during that campaign, quite likely without anyone consciously intending to cross it. A mendacious demagogue with an incompetent, unprofessional campaign operation conquered a political party that had come untethered from its philosophical moorings, and then became both the target and the pawn of a highly capable foreign adversary who wanted to sow as much chaos as possible. We can all see the results around us in the ruined state of American political life and civic culture, and most of us would agree (Miller included) that this was the culmination of a long process for which Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin cannot be blamed.”
Miller reminds us that Trump’s victory speech offered something he’s incapable of delivering, “healing and unity”. Here’s the key to the value offered through Miller’s book:
“Even Miller would not claim that there are explosive new revelations about the Trump-Russia connections in “The Apprentice.” But it is researched and sourced at vastly more depth than any other book on the subject to date, and as Miller puts it, almost every page features a nugget of new reporting or reveals a previously hidden connection. … In the bigger picture, Miller means to banish any remaining doubt, on both the Trumpian right and the radical left, about whether Russian agents interfered extensively in the 2016 election with the aim of helping Trump, and about whether they succeeded.”
In our last edition we mentioned Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s threat to Obama and then CIA Director Brennan to squelch a bi-partisan warning of Russian influence to swing the election to Trump:
“To frame this issue in a different way, we were just talking about Mitch McConnell’s role in the election, and nobody’s accusing Mitch McConnell of being manipulated by the Russians or being Putin’s pawn. He represents a political or cultural division that was already there. That’s what the Russian propaganda was able to exploit, right? Things that were already present in our society.”
Where Miller ends up with this book is here:
“People are going to wonder about the presence of a smoking gun or lack thereof in “The Apprentice.” So let me frame this question carefully. You make suggestions that Russian intelligence, even going back to the Soviet era, was interested in Donald Trump decades before his emergence as a presidential candidate. And you suggest, but do not state conclusively, that he may indeed have known about the famous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting before it happened.”
“Yeah. I think that that’s still an open question.”
Instead, when pressed about possible Kompromat here is how Miller summarizes:
“This is your argument that the smoking gun, in a sense, may not be hidden at all. It may be right there on the surface in information that all of us have seen.
“And that’s not just me sort of theorizing. I mean, I’ve covered the intelligence beat for the Washington Post for nearly 10 years now and before that for the Los Angeles Times. These are knowledgeable CIA officials who have been saying this to me throughout this whole period. They believe that a lot of the collusion is in plain sight. And it’s astonishing if you think about Trump’s behavior that way, right? If we learned that Trump was secretly doing many of the things he doesn’t bother to hide, we would be astonished. We would be aghast.”
As at the Helsinki summit, the ‘smoking gun’ is not hidden, it is right in front of us. The ultimate undoing of Trump would be for Putin to claim he got Trump elected. That is the dance we watch while civility is crushed.
Whacking a Russian hacker
Meanwhile, the news is still full of stories of Russian hackers, some caught red-handed – literally: The Cybersecurity 202: U.S. & Allies Make Coordinated Push To ‘name and shame’ Russian Hacker.
It’s a quick read, but the main points are:
“U.S. prosecutors on Thursday indicted seven agents from the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit, on hacking charges related to the leaking of Olympic athletes’ drug-test data in 2016, as my colleagues . On the other side of the Atlantic, British officials for the first time the GRU of carrying out a range of cyberattacks, including the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee. And Dutch authorities described how they an international chemical weapons watchdog. Australia’s prime minister also the GRU for what he called a “pattern of malicious cyberactivity.””
In the ‘red-handed’ part of this, “Dutch authorities revealed how they disrupted the operation, released surveillance images of the GRU officers. : “The GRU plot unraveled when authorities caught the Russians in a rental car parked just outside the agency’s semicircular building. The spies were carrying taxi receipts for the trip from GRU’s barracks to a Moscow airport. And one of their phones had been activated on a transmission tower near the barracks… One man had hidden an antenna in the car’s trunk that was pointed at the OPCW to try to intercept log-in information to the organization’s wireless Internet network, officials said.”
But as the story also reports, the White House continues to focus (distract) on China: Mike Pence And The Trump Administration’s Complicity In Downplaying Russian Election Interference.
We won’t go into detail. In essence, there is no reporting of Chinese hacking or direct attempts to influence U.S. elections, which is the deflection Trump and Pence are carefully suggesting. Instead there is a case that can be made that China is responding to Trump’s trade war and tariffs and targeting industries and trade that are particular to Trump’s political election. Though Trump has gone so far as to “even tried to blame Russia’s 2016 election interference on China”, as we last pointed out, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Mielsen says there is no evidence of Chinese involvement in the mid-term elections.
The answer in front of our faces
Trump’s initial “hundreds of millions” came from his father. Once he pissed that way, his next “hundreds of millions” came from Russia.
There are now any number of detailed histories of Trump’s financial complicity with Russia and Russia involvement to influence the 2016 election to benefit Trump. Is this Trump-Russia collusion, conspiracy, is there a smoking gun?
The authors above are careful to say, “maybe”, or “it looks like it”, while pointing out that it’s Special Counsel Mueller’s job to find the smoking gun. Short of that, the smoking gun is Trump’s performance in plain sight.
It is also true and Trump and the White House work hard to diffuse proof of Russian involvement while parsing words to spread blame elsewhere without proof and without taking serious steps to address known election risk shortcomings.
So the answer is right in front of us. Trump’s subservience to Putin could be as simple as his egotistical inability to cast any negative light on what’s transpired – in his case, transpired over decades leading up to the election and ongoing while he breaks as much of our democratic institutions as he can.
Whatever the case…
VOTE. VOTE FOR OVERSIGHT.