Thursday, July 20, 2017

Russia and the Trumps: It Was Always About the Money

Other than trying to satisfy his own insatiable ego and narcissism, Donald Trump has only one god: money and acquiring more money.   Like far to many, Trump needs things and money to instill a sense of self-worth.  Whatever he got, he needed - and still needs - more.  In light of his numerous business bankruptcies and literally thousands of lawsuits against his entities, American banks ultimately learned that he was a bad risk and the money spigot so crucial to supporting his purported real estate empire was turned off.  That left him seeking loans from the Bank of China and from Germany's Deutsche Bank the latter of which is facing subpoenas and questioning from special prosecutor Robert Mueller as The Guardian reports:  
Executives inside Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump’s personal bankers, are expecting that the bank will soon be receiving subpoenas or other requests for information from Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.
A person close to the matter who spoke to the Guardian on the condition of anonymity said that Mueller’s team and the bank have already established informal contact in connection to the federal investigation.
Deutsche’s relationship with Trump and questions about hundreds of millions in loans have dogged the German bank and the White House for months. They have also been the subject of intense scrutiny among some Democrats on Capitol Hill, who have demanded the bank turn over detailed information about the president’s accounts.
Any move by Mueller’s team to pursue Trump’s personal financial record comes as the bank continues to negotiate a settlement with the Department of Justice over its so-called mirror trading scheme, in which the bank’s former Moscow branch is alleged to have allowed $10bn to flow out of Russia
According to an analysis by Bloomberg, Trump now owes Deutsche, his biggest creditor, around $300m. He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsche’s private bank. The loans are guaranteed against the president’s properties: a new deluxe hotel in Washington DC’s old post office building, just around the corner from the White House; his Chicago tower hotel; and the Trump National DoralMiami resort.
Tellingly, Deutsche Bank ceased making new loans to Trump quite some time ago.  This left Trump ultimately with one source of funding: Russia and Russian oligarchs eager to move money out of Russia, much of it in need of laundering.  A column in Esquire looks at how the quest for Russian money has now perhaps begun to unravel for Trumpenführer.  Here are highlights:
It was always about the money. The reason we never saw the tax returns was because of what they would show about the money. The reason we can't get a straight answer about the family's dealings with the Russians is the money. Preet Bharara got fired because of the money and how the money had been allegedly laundered. James Comey got fired because of the money. Without the money, specifically the money from Russia, the Trump empire likely would have collapsed under a hail of writs and the paterfamilias would have been rendered invisible, even in the mirrors of Mar-a-Lago.
It always was about the money. The meeting on June 6, 2016 ultimately was about the money, as we learned today from CNN. The network reported that it had identified the eighth participant in that now-famous Trump Tower confab. Contrary to the previous load of hooey dispensed by Junior and the first family, this dude was not a translator.  . . . Here's Ray from The New York Times:
In a nine-month inquiry that subpoenaed bank records, the investigators found that an unknown number of Russians and other East Europeans moved more than $1.4 billion through accounts at Citibank of New York and the Commercial Bank of San Francisco. The accounts had been opened by Irakly Kaveladze,  . . . . More than $800 million was wired from abroad to 136 accounts that Mr. Kaveladze opened at Citibank for Russian clients, and most of that was then sent to overseas accounts . . .
It's not hard to believe that Junior wanted this guy's name kept out of the stories, especially now that, as the guy's attorney says, Robert Mueller has come knock, knock, knocking at the door.
The fact is that the president* was never as rich as he said he was, a circumstance that was of outsized importance to nobody except his own narcissistic self. (I don't think it would have changed a single vote if it had been revealed that he wasn't as rich as he was saying he was.) He did, however, always have an outsized sense of himself in the world. He had to keep acquiring to stay true to his self-image. I believe the collision between these two factors left him with no options but to obtain loans except overseas, and the Russian money was easy money. Then he got elected president and it all unraveled.
If obstruction of justice doesn't take Trump - and his children and son-in-law - down, money laundering and other financial crimes likely will do so.  Just imagine Ivanka in bright orange prison garb.  

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