There’s no right way to get back into blogging after a month-long hiatus, so I’ll just dive right in again. There’s a lot coming out at the moment about Donald Trump and some of his advisers’ connections to Russia and Vladimir Putin’s cronies. A taste, from the first article I read about what should become a major issue, if we still have a functioning media:
3. One example of this is the Trump Soho development in Manhattan, one of Trump’s largest recent endeavors. The project was the hit with a series of lawsuits in response to some typically Trumpian efforts to defraud investors by making fraudulent claims about the financial health of the project. Emerging out of that litigation however was news about secret financing for the project from Russia and Kazakhstan. Most attention about the project has focused on the presence of a twice imprisoned Russian immigrant with extensive ties to the Russian criminal underworld. But that’s not the most salient part of the story. As the Times put it,
“Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt.”
Another suit alleged the project “occasionally received unexplained infusions of cash from accounts in Kazakhstan and Russia.”
Sounds completely legit.
Read both articles: After his bankruptcy and business failures roughly a decade ago Trump has had an increasingly difficult time finding sources of capital for new investments. As I noted above, Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major US presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.
Altogether, Josh Marshall gathers seven pieces of information that suggest the following: at best, Trump’s business interests have received huge amounts of money from people in Putin’s circle, he’s got several advisers who have made lots of money from and have been very close to Putin’s circle, and Trump has basically promised to give Putin everything he would want from an American president.
Marshall responds to some reasonable skepticism about the whole thing here. Kevin Drum clarifies some of what we now know here, and Daniel Drezner has a good piece here. We’ll see if these unquestioned-so-far connections between Trump and his world and Putin and his world get nearly as much attention as Benghazi-gate and email-gate. They should.