By the time you reach the end of this blog, you may be inclined to just blow its’ contents off as “a reach”. Contrariwise, the suggestion offered here is that you file all this away for later comparison to events that will be unfolding across the next many months as the investigations into the Trump/Russia connections proceed and their findings become public.
In the beginning
This long narrative actually has its origins way back in the 1980’s when Trump was making his move towards becoming a big-time real estate developer. He borrowed heavily in support of his plan to build casinos in Atlantic City NJ and turn it into a gambling mecca.
All this came a cropper when, in 1987, the stock market tanked and took real estate values down with it. Trump found himself near-broke and deeply in debt to his lenders. Salvation arrived in the form of a restructuring of his loans and the casinos were built and became part of Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc.
Over time, the casinos were mismanaged into insolvency and Trump Entertainment filed for bankruptcy in 2004, 2009 and 2011. As all this was playing out, Trump found himself a persona non grata with US banks. It was “Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me”. Trump, desperate for some working capital, simply couldn’t find any domestic lenders.
In 2008, Trump visited Moscow and began to get chummy with at least one member of the Kremlin’s inner circle. Coincidentally, he was received with open arms by the Deutsche Bank in Germany, an establishment that later ended up paying a $10 billion dollar fine for being complicit in helping Russian oligarchs launder illegally gained money.
This was a pivotal time for Trump who now found himself awash in funds, some supplied by Deutsche, and more alleged tossed in by Russian crime bosses. Donald Trump, Jr. even boasted publicly 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”.
By 2012, Trump had gained ownership of the Miss Universe Pageant. For reasons yet to be discovered, he decided to hold the 2013 event in Moscow. Accordingly, he was feted and shown every courtesy in the run-up to the contest, during it and thereafter. It was yet another step further into what was and remains at least a deep financial relationship with the former USSR, now Russia.
Innocent or something else?
Now, every bit of the foregoing can be written off as just so much international business. But, as we bring that history forward to current events, no such simple write-off is possible. As our intelligence specialists will tell you, Russians have a long history of trying to “work” foreign visitors into serving as witting or unwitting sources of what might prove to be useful information. At times, this can be accomplished by secretly collecting potentially damaging information on such folks and then blackmailing them. Could Trump, with his love of flattery and adulation have been played in that way?
To Russia with love
The question that ended the last section takes on special relevance when you look at how Trump has behaved vis a vis Russia for the past 18 months. His praise of Putin, suggestions that he could forge a better relationship with our Cold War adversary, that working together was possible, and then finally, his refusal to affirm what our entire intelligence community has concluded; i.e. that Russia meddled in our electoral process.
Were this not enough, look at the people among now-president Trump’s inner circle: Michael Flynn, Paul Manaford, Roger Stone, Conner Page and Rex Tillerson, all with some sort of connection to Russia, Russian money, and Russian power. Four of those five are now targets of one or another of the investigations into the Trump/Russia connection (1). And quite recently, we can add to those close to 45 who are persons of interest, son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Given the cast of characters in this geopolitical drama and the various cross-currents of of their various interactions with Russia, do not expect all this to be unraveled in short order. The process for sorting things out is under way, meetings are being held, people and documents are being subpoenaed even as Trump and the White House seek and find ways to impeded this process. But those efforts will only slow the investigative momentum and contribute to the growing impression that 45 does indeed have something to hide.
- See “Let us count the ways”, the last blog posted at this site on 5-24-17.