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For The Record  

FTR #903 Daniel Hopsicker on Donald Trump and How He Is Going to Make America Great Again

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

One of our haircraft is missing . . .

Introduction: With the supposed “outsider” Donald Trump having locked up the Republican nomination, we take a look at the underbelly of Trump’s business career. Noted for his supposed business acumen, Trump has benefited from financial dealings with organized crime figures and people with long-standing intelligence connections. Underlying his associations are relationships stretching back to the secreting of Axis loot during, and after, World War II.

Do not fail to note that real estate projects and gambling casinos are major vehicles for laundering money–the available evidence suggests that Trump’s business dealings may well have been money laundering operations.

Some of these people may even make it into a Trump cabinet, such as Treasury-Secretary-to-be Carl Icahn: ” . . . There’s Trump buddy, and favorite for a Cabinet post  in a Trump Administration, shady financier Carl Icahn, whose checkered career may finally get the attention it deserves. Example: Icahn made a $100 million investment in a bogus St. Petersburg Florida company whose only “product” turned out to be 5.5 tons of cocaine busted on a company plane. The plane, a DC-9, was also used to give illegal free rides during the 2000 election to soon-to-be Florida Senator and later nationwide GOP Campaign Finance Chair Mel Martinez. . . .”

Iran-Contra scandal player Adnan Khashoggi is also a Trump crony. (Khashoggi has also been among the financiers of Al-Qaeda, AND the so-called “Truther” movement.) ” . . . . And there’s Saudi wheeler-dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who sold Trump his yacht at a bargain-basement price, winters in Palm Beach, and is similarly fabulous. . . .”

In his Atlantic City operations, Trump benefited from a mob-linked milieu: ” . . . . in Atlantic City New Jersey a crowd gathers at the launch of  New Jersey’s glitziest new hotel/casino, “Harrah’s Trump Plaza” to hear the Governor and Atlantic City’s Mayor heap praise on Donald Trump for investing in the future of Atlantic City.Trump wasn’t a tycoon yet, just a budding real estate wunderkind. . . .

The land where Trump Plaza stands in Atlantic City was owned at the time by several Trump partners. One, Dan Sullivan,   was a Teamsters official and friend of Jimmy Hoffa whose arrest record, according to “Boardwalk Jungle” by Ovid Desmaris, included “impersonating a police officer, larceny, grand larceny, felonious assault and possession of a dangerous weapon.”

Sullivan was also famous, at least in certain circles (see clipping below) as the last person to have seen a dissident Teamster lawyer named Abraham Bauman alive. “Bauman disappeared after speaking with Sullivan,” read a Casino Gaming Commission report. “Neither he nor his body were ever found.”

“Neither he nor his body.” 

Mankind is grateful New Jersey state troopers never found one without finding the other, making it clear that one big reason for Trump’s enviable success there is that state officials were—and, probably, still are—morons.

Being the last person seen with a guy everyone presumes is dead can be quite a burden.

Dan Sullivan shouldered it manfully. He was a useful person to know, with excellent connections on the labor negotiation front. He had influence with Mob-run unions like the Teamsters; Laborers International; and Hotel & Restaurant Employees.

So on a building project experiencing bargaining problems with the hotel and restaurant workers union, Trump arranged for Sullivan to be hired as a labor negotiator.

“Trump advised [the FBI] that [Sullivan] is involved as a labor consultant to their firm,” noted a September 1986 FBI memo.

The role of “labor consultant,”  someone specializing in producing “labor peace” on large construction projects, can be fraught with danger.  But the FBI showed itself to be understanding of people whose jobs involve potentially questionable activities.

“They are aware that it is a very rough business and that [Sullivan] knows people, some of whom may be unsavory by the simple nature of their business,” stated the FBI memo. . . . Trump told the New Jersey Casino Commission he met Sullivan “probably at one of the closings or during negotiations, let’s say, and then ultimately at the closings for Holiday Inn’s parcel. He had the middle parcel. Without that piece in the  middle the deal wouldn’t have worked.”

For his part, Sullivan confirmed to The Casino Commission that he hadn’t met Trump until their negotiations for the land beneath Trump Towers. But a smirking Sullivan later called Trump “an old friend from New York. . . .”

These connections are representative of Trump business associations. He also had what might be described as a “sweetheart deal’ with Holiday Inn: ” . . . . Newsday reported that no other commercial developer had ever received a tax abatement from the city, yet Trump was awarded a 40-year tax abatement on the Grand Hyatt Hotel which saved him $3 million a year. The Wall Street Journal called it “the tax deal of the century.” Yet local activists complained Trump that despite the huge tax breaks he got in Atlantic City, he gave nothing back to the city. All that money went somewhere. But where? When Trump Plaza finally closed amid Atlantic City’s crumbling casino scene, the hotel “The Donald” built for $250 million back in 1984, couldn’t fetch $20 million at auction. . . .”

Trump begun buying properties in Atlantic City in the early 1980s, but didn’t build a casino until he had a partner, Holiday Inn, which already owned Harrah’s Casinos, that was a lock to win regulatory approval from New Jersey officials.

In fact, Donald Trump built Trump Plaza only after Holiday Inn secured financing of $250 million. Trump had no previous track record of successful large development. But the young entrepreneur was lucky enough to get to build a big building with other people’s money. Good for him.

Then I read something I couldn’t believe.  Donald Trump also got to put his own name on it?  It wasn’t called Holiday Inn-World or Harrahs-Land? Adding insult to injury:

Holiday Inn had secured $250 million to finance the build, but Trump Plaza only cost $220 million to erect. Trump and company, who didn’t risk a dime, presumably made $30 million on construction.

Trump also got to take home half the take from the glitzy, new, and already paid for casino. He even got a clause holding him harmless for casino losses for five years. If somebody walked in and placed 37 winning bets in a row on ‘black’ at roulette while letting the winnings ride each time, it wasn’t Trump who was then forced to eat tuna fish out of cans for a month.

What I was looking at was not just the deal of the century. It was the greatest deal since the Universe began. . . .”

In his Western deals, Trump has followed in the footsteps of mob real estate figures like Louis Lesser, an associate of Howard Hughes. ” . . . . Louis Lesser was a partner with Syndicate legend Meyer Lansky and Kirk Kerkorian in buying up Las Vegas hotels and casinos. He had extensive ties with Howard Hughes. He developed, owned, and leased many properties to Hughes’ Aircraft, including a massive project in Newport Beach.

Lesser helped Hughes buy up hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. When Lesser sold his Frontier Hotel and Casino to Hughes, it was the beginning of Hughes’ take-over there. In an example of Trump’s synergistic Great Chain of Life, years later, Donald Trump erected the Trump Hotel Las Vegas on a portion of the property.

Louis Lesser, when he resigned as chairman of Louis Lesser Enterprises in 1967, was replaced by an associate of Henry Salvatori, who the L.A. Times called a “GOP Kingmaker.”

In 1964, Salvatori chaired Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in California. He convinced Goldwater to allow Ronald Reagan to give a televised fundraising speech entitled “A Time for Choosing,” which launched Reagan’s political career. Salvatori became a prominent member of Ronald Reagan’s “kitchen cabinet.”

 Louis Lesser sold his Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City to Donald Trump.

Later, when the casino went bankrupt, a court filing in the bankruptcy proceedings revealed Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino listed Fincen (The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) as an unsecured creditor, meaning it hadn’t paid the record $10 million penalty (the largest the agency ever levied on a casino) for what FINCEN called  “money laundering failures.” . . . .”

Lesser’s son Craig was involved with the Marcos fortune, derived from the Golden Lily loot compiled by the fascist Japanese in World War II: ” . . . . In the late 1980’s Louis Lesser’s son Craig became partners in real estate with Imelda Marcos, fronting for the real principals, Louis Lesser and Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos. On an outing with Imelda and a military contingent, Craig Lesser  helped uncover part of the fabled cache of gold buried by the Japanese in the Philippines at the end of Word War II.

 In Gold Warriors (2002), Sterling and Peggy Seagrave detail a “great fortune discovered by U.S. intelligence services in 1946 … $13-billion in war loot amassed by underworld godfather Kodama Yoshio who, as a rear admiral in the Imperial Navy working with Golden Lily in China and Southeast Asia, was in charge of plundering the Asian underworld and racketeers. He was also in charge of Japan’s wartime drug trade throughout Asia

Craig Lesser sent back a solid gold antique vase to his father, which took several men to lift, and which was displayed on the mantle at Louis Lesser’s mansion, once the largest private residence in Beverly Hills.

Until TV producer Aaron Spelling built “The Manor,” a home that rivals a mid-sized hotel in square footage, Louis Lesser lived in the largest house in Beverly Hills. In fact, his house at 1156 Shadow Hill Way was used extensively during production of Beverly Hills 90210.

Its current occupant, Pearlasia Gamboa, is a Filipino-American business woman who’s been involved in massive fraud, and was the president of a “micro-nation” called theDominion of Melchizedek, an atoll in the South Pacific which lies underwater at high tide,  used as a front for fraudulent criminal activity.

Bank of England officials raided the London premises of a company which offered get-rich-quick investment schemes backed by a phony bank ”registered” in Melchizedek. ”It appears to exist mainly so that money can be whisked through shell banks,”reported the Washington Post. . . .”

Program Highlights Include:

  • Trump’s flipping of a Palm Beach luxury home to Russian mobster Dimitry Rybobolev.
  • Imelda Marcos’s association with Trump associate Adnan Khashoggi.
  • Trump’s links to Joseph McCarthy attorney Roy Cohn, and the latter’s links to mob figures.
  • Louis Lesser’s association with the Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan milieux.

1. The first of Daniel’s articles highlights mob influence in Donald Trump’s various projects. In this context, we should note that both real estate and gambling casinos are frequent (and ideal) vehicles for laundering money.

 “Donald Trump and the Palm Beach Homies” by Daniel Hopsicker; Mad Cow Morning News; 3/9/2016.

Donald Trump’s history with the Mob—beginning with early business partners in Atlantic City who were ‘dese dem & dose’ guys with crooked noses who knew where Jimmy Hoffa was really buried —is a virtual travelogue through 30 years of ever-more sophisticated organized crime.

Relying on the Mob for support in Atlantic City and during construction of his signature New York projects is certainly lamentable. But Trump’s questionable early partners are only half of the story.

At a moment when Americans have begun registering their anger at having been swindled financially, Trump’s ‘homies’ in Palm Beach, whose exploits have victimized entire nations, could provoke real outrage. If, that is, they ever receive exposure.

There’s a corrupt nursing home magnate, at least one Russian Mobster, and a serial thief who may have “hidden out on a Trump property in Palm Beach” while INTERPOL was looking to serve a criminal warrant for looting a big bank in Thailand.

There’s Trump buddy, and favorite for a Cabinet post  in a Trump Administration, shady financier Carl Icahn, whose checkered career may finally get the attention it deserves.

Example: Icahn made a $100 million investment in a bogus St. Petersburg Florida company whose only “product” turned out to be 5.5 tons of cocaine busted on a company plane. The plane, a DC-9, was also used to give illegal free rides during the 2000 election to soon-to-be Florida Senator and later nationwide GOP Campaign Finance Chair Mel Martinez.

And there’s Saudi wheeler-dealer Adnan Khashoggi, who sold Trump his yacht at a bargain-basement price, winters in Palm Beach, and is similarly fabulous.

While Khashoggi specializes these days in robbing banks from the inside, (PDF, pg 8), and evading INTERPOL arrest warrants, he periodically rapes the American financial system for hundreds of millions  of dollars—with STOCKWALK, for example, a scam that cost Deutsche Bank $278 million in fines.

Trump’s Palm Beach homies may be slightly more genteel… But they’ve stolen far more money than Trump’s Mob partners back in Jersey ever dreamed possible.

The subject surfaced thanks to some inarticulate heavy breathing recently by Sen. Ted Cruz, who speculated last week that Trump hasn’t released his tax returns because they show ties to the Mob.

Then on Sunday Cruz doubled-down, accusing the media of knowing all about it, but waiting for just the right time. “The media is sitting on ‘bombshell’ exposes on Donald Trump,” he said, “but won’t publish it until the tycoon is the Republican nominee.”

When a taken-aback Chuck Todd asked Cruz if he had any basis to suggest Trump has mob ties, he replied: “Oh sure. ABC, CNN, multiple news reports have reported about his dealings with… ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno, who is a mobster who is in jail. And that has been reported in multiple media outlets.”

Ted Cruz’ statement seems, for him,  to be only slightly more than typically-inaccurate.

One-line memo to Cruz:  Fat Tony Salerno isn’t in jail. He’s been dead since 1992.

But first, because its colorful, and because it goes to the heart of his claim that he would be the best President for America because he’s the best negotiator, a brief recap of Trump’s early Mob ties:

Before becoming big enough to rub elbows with the beautiful people who “winter” in Palm Beach and their friends from transnational organized crime, Donald Trump had to make his bones the same place almost everyone else does: In Jersey.

It’s July 16, 1985…  Lightning strikes four golfers making a dash for the clubhouse during a storm in Michigan…  Helicopter assault teams launch airborne marijuana-eradication raids in California (which in hindsight look like a ridiculously-huge waste of taxpayer money)…

And in Atlantic City New Jersey a crowd gathers at the launch of  New Jersey’s glitziest new hotel/casino, “Harrah’s Trump Plaza” to hear the Governor and Atlantic City’s Mayor heap praise on Donald Trump for investing in the future of Atlantic City.

Trump wasn’t a tycoon yet, just a budding real estate wunderkind. But already he was a showman. 30 years before the current Presidential brouhaha, his bombastic style and tone were fully in place.

“Donald Trump was ecstatic,” reported Ovid Demaris, in “The Boardwalk Jungle.”

“I think this is going to be an incredible building!” Trump enthused at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  “I think its going to be the largest and one of the most spectacular hotels anywhere in the world. It’s magnificent! Three blocks long! A megastructure! Its incredible. The largest casino in the world! The tallest building in Atlantic City! It just dominates!”

“I stand in front of you as the newly-elected mayor of a city which will be the recipient of the largess of two fine organizations, Trump and Harrah’s,” gushed the new Mayor.

The new Mayor’s enthusiasm may have been the aftermath of adrenaline over not being indicted for taking bribes from one of Donald Trump’s partners on the very project being launched that day, as the previous Mayor had.

The heavy burden of suspicion

The land where Trump Plaza stands in Atlantic City was owned at the time by several Trump partners. One, Dan Sullivan,   was a Teamsters official and friend of Jimmy Hoffa whose arrest record, according to “Boardwalk Jungle” by Ovid Desmaris, included “impersonating a police officer, larceny, grand larceny, felonious assault and possession of a dangerous weapon.”

Sullivan was also famous, at least in certain circles (see clipping below) as the last person to have seen a dissident Teamster lawyer named Abraham Bauman alive. “Bauman disappeared after speaking with Sullivan,” read a Casino Gaming Commission report. “Neither he nor his body were ever found.”

“Neither he nor his body.” 

Mankind is grateful New Jersey state troopers never found one without finding the other, making it clear that one big reason for Trump’s enviable success there is that state officials were—and, probably, still are—morons.

Being the last person seen with a guy everyone presumes is dead can be quite a burden.

Dan Sullivan shouldered it manfully. He was a useful person to know, with excellent connections on the labor negotiation front. He had influence with Mob-run unions like the Teamsters; Laborers International; and Hotel & Restaurant Employees.

So on a building project experiencing bargaining problems with the hotel and restaurant workers union, Trump arranged for Sullivan to be hired as a labor negotiator.

“Trump advised [the FBI] that [Sullivan] is involved as a labor consultant to their firm,” noted a September 1986 FBI memo.

The role of “labor consultant,”  someone specializing in producing “labor peace” on large construction projects, can be fraught with danger.  But the FBI showed itself to be understanding of people whose jobs involve potentially questionable activities.

“They are aware that it is a very rough business and that [Sullivan] knows people, some of whom may be unsavory by the simple nature of their business,” stated the FBI memo.

“By the simple nature of their business.”

How Trump and Sullivan first met was a question of some interest to New Jersey officials.

Trump told the New Jersey Casino Commission he met Sullivan “probably at one of the closings or during negotiations, let’s say, and then ultimately at the closings for Holiday Inn’s parcel. He had the middle parcel. Without that piece in the  middle the deal wouldn’t have worked.”

For his part, Sullivan confirmed to The Casino Commission that he hadn’t met Trump until their negotiations for the land beneath Trump Towers. But a smirking Sullivan later called Trump “an old friend from New York.”

“It’s nice being friends with a millionaire,” he added.

As Trump’s Tower and Casino was opening, two of his partners in the venture were under a cloud for bribing Atlantic City Mayor Michael Matthews, who at his sentencing uttered the immortal phrase, “Greed got the best of me.”

Trump partner Dan Sullivan was “an unindicted co-conspirator,” while a second Trump partner, Kenneth Shapiro, was less lucky.

Shapiro, known as the “bag man” for Philly crime boss Nicky Scarfo, was indicted for making the payoffs.

“Crocodile Dundee, meet Guido; Guido, meet Croc”

A year later Australian officials conducting an investigation into Trump’s suitability to operate a casino in Sydney were given access to FBI surveillance transcripts of conversations between Trump and Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno.

The phone conversation was enough to convince Australian officials to turn his bid down. In addition to being a capo in the Genovese Mafia family, “Fat Tony” owned a concrete company doing a lot of work, as might be expected, for Donald Trump.

The FBI report indicated Trump met Salerno through notorious attorney Roy Cohn, who represented both men.

Cohn had been red-baiting U.S. Senator McCarthy’s right-hand man in the 50’s.  He was famous for once telling a client,” Don’t tell me what you’re charged with. Just tell me who the Judge is.”

In addition to being Donald Trump’s stablemate in Roy Cohn’s client roster, Fat Tony Salerno won the title of “richest and most powerful gangster in America” in a 1986 article in Fortune magazine.

Salerno earned tens of millions from loan sharking, Fortune reported, skimming at Nevada casinos and charging New York City construction projects  a “Mafia tax.”  Convicted in 1988 for payoffs on concrete in 16 Manhattan buildings, including the Jacob Javits Convention Center, he was sentenced to 70 years in prison, where he died 4 years later.

Sailing “The Octopussy” with another “vulgarian-at-large”

Fast forward to 2006. Trump did a deal in Palm Beach that illustrates the better class of crook with whom he was now consorting.

At a bankruptcy auction, Trump bought Maison de L’Amitie, situated on one of Palm Beach’s largest properties.

Its previous owner was a man one reporter called “nursing home magnate and vulgarian-at-large Abe Gosman,” whose career offers ample clues to what happens when Medicare money goes missing.

Gosman went belly up after Federal auditors began probing his nursing home chain. In time-honored tradition, he parked his assets in his wife’s name.

So far, so good. However, Lin Gosman, Abraham Gosman’s new wife, had not yet been divorced before the two lovebirds staged a big “theme” wedding aboard “The Octopussy,” Gosman’s luxury yacht, and a federal bankruptcy judge ruled he wasn’t legally married.

That’s right. The Octopussy.

When Gosman died, Lin was not mentioned in the family obituary notice. In 2009, she was charged with bankruptcy fraud, mortgage fraud and other charges, pled guilty, and was sentenced to house arrest.

Good-by, Maison de L’Amitie. Adieu, Octo-Pussy.

A ‘cosmetic upgrade’ from gangster to ‘businessman’

After a cosmetic upgrade, Trump sold the waterfront mansion for a then-record $100 million to Russian “businessman” Dmitry Rybolovlev.

Dozens of news reports trumpeted Trump’s big sale—everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to Entertainment Tonight. But although The Journal called Rybolovlev “one of Russia’s richest and most discreet businessmen, no U.S. news outlet (except the MadCowMorningNews, which hardly counts) saw fit to mention Palm Beach’s newest resident’s prominent “ties” to the Russian Mafiya, which were hiding in plain sight.

Instead they focused on billionaire mogul Trump’s massive windfall in scooping it up for a bargain-basement price of just $40 million before flipping it for a reported $100 million, one of the highest prices ever paid for a home in the United States.

Official Russian news agency TASS had reported that Russian law enforcement authorities had accused Rybolovlev of being behind the murder of his chief rival for control of Russia’s lucrative fertilizer business, a man who had been “shot five times at the entrance to his apartment in Perm, a regional center in the Urals.”

On the day after the murder, TASS called the murder a “contract killing.” The suspected murderers and organizers of the crime, including the head of the FD-Kredit Bank, Dmitry Rybolovlev, have been arrested,” TASS reported.

It wasn’t as if the U.S. news media was ignorant of what is going on in Russia, which was being described as “a kleptocracy from top to bottom;” and a “semi-criminal state.”

Russia’s own Interior Ministry estimated two-thirds of the Russian economy was under the sway of organized crime, which enjoyed protection from the ruling oligarchy during Yeltsin’s long drunken twilight during the late 90’s.

Today two hundred of Russia’s largest crime gangs are global conglomerates.

“The Art of the Deal”

When surveying the “art” of Donald Trump’s deals, the question is whether he’s the dealmaker of the century, or… were invisible forces involved?  If the man who authored “The Art of the Deal” was secretly getting a big hand up from his buddies in organized crime, that would be relevant to claims Trump’s been making during the campaign.

What follows is public record.

Newsday reported that no other commercial developer had ever received a tax abatement from the city, yet Trump was awarded a 40-year tax abatement on the Grand Hyatt Hotel which saved him $3 million a year. The Wall Street Journal called it “the tax deal of the century.”

Yet local activists complained Trump that despite the huge tax breaks he got in Atlantic City, he gave nothing back to the city. All that money went somewhere. But where?

When Trump Plaza finally closed amid Atlantic City’s crumbling casino scene, the hotel “The Donald” built for $250 million back in 1984, couldn’t fetch $20 million at auction.

That giant sucking sound. Again.

Is this the ‘giant sucking sound” third party candidate Ross Perot warned about back in 1992?  Let’s take a quick look.

Trump begun buying properties in Atlantic City in the early 1980s, but didn’t build a casino until he had a partner, Holiday Inn, which already owned Harrah’s Casinos, that was a lock to win regulatory approval from New Jersey officials.

In fact, Donald Trump built Trump Plaza only after Holiday Inn secured financing of $250 million. Trump had no previous track record of successful large development. But the young entrepreneur was lucky enough to get to build a big building with other people’s money. Good for him.

Then I read something I couldn’t believe.  Donald Trump also got to put his own name on it?  It wasn’t called Holiday Inn-World or Harrahs-Land? Adding insult to injury:

Holiday Inn had secured $250 million to finance the build, but Trump Plaza only cost $220 million to erect. Trump and company, who didn’t risk a dime, presumably made $30 million on construction.

Trump also got to take home half the take from the glitzy, new, and already paid for casino. He even got a clause holding him harmless for casino losses for five years. If somebody walked in and placed 37 winning bets in a row on ‘black’ at roulette while letting the winnings ride each time, it wasn’t Trump who was then forced to eat tuna fish out of cans for a month.

What I was looking at was not just the deal of the century. It was the greatest deal since the Universe began.

Later, when just a few a years after it opened, Harrah’s Trump Plaza became “Trump Plaza Casino and Hotel,” and Trump purchases the nearby Hilton Hotel and Casino because the chain is denied a casino license… the question arises:  Where can an ambitious young man go to get a deal like that? Where indeed?

“If you have to ask,” goes the short answer, “you probably don’t qualify.”

2. Further developing the Trump narrative, Daniel notes the web of associations surrounding Trump and the history of those associations.

“Donald Trump, Dirty Money, & The Filthy Rich in Palm Beach” by Daniel Hopsicker; Mad Cow Morning News; 3/17/2016.

 Is he really doing it without dirty money?

When asked to describe what they like most about Donald Trump, supporters usually say “He’s been doing it all without dirty money.”  They mean his campaign is self-funded, and takes no money from lobbyists, special interests, and Republican Party kingmakers.

But what if Trump’s own money is dirty? Could a sizable chunk of Trump’s net worth come from selling real estate to drug lords, mobsters, and international financial criminals?

The answer is: There’s no way to tell. Secrecy hides the identity of the crooked, violent and corrupt who invest cash in U.S. real estate through shell companies registered in Delaware, managed by a bank in the Grand Caymans for a trust in Guernsey. And its all perfectly legal.

Even Swiss banks these days have to know who their customers are. Not American real estate developers. There’s no legal requirement whatsoever that U.S. real-estate developer Donald Trump know who his clients are. Probably, he couldn’t care less. Or even worse, he’d rather not know.

The Great Circle of Life,” Trump-Style

A closer look at Trump reveals names which recur with his—and with each other—in odd and unexpected places. It’s as if Trump belongs to the “Great Circle of Life” from a “Lion King” movie shot in an alternative Universe.

From Palm Beach, winter home to well-known and well-heeled scammers from around the world, here’s a thumbnail sketch of “The Great Circle of Life,” Trump-Style.

Donald Trump has repeatedly taken advantage of this huge loophole in American law, never more blatantly than when he made a cool $90 million dollar profit on a Palm Beach mansion he sold to a man who someone must have worked really hard to convince the American mainstream media to identify as a “Russian businessman,” or “Russian fertilizer oligarch.”

He wasn’t. Dmitry Rybolovlev is a Russian Mobster, who was indicted for rubbing out his chief business rival in what Russian news agency TASS called a “contract hit.”  

Yet the Donald was pocketing $90 million of dirty cash from the Russian Mob at the same time a minor politician in California was taking tons of heat for accepting—from that same Russian Mobster—a $400 pen.

For his part, Rybolovlev liked the U.S. media’s characterization of him as a Russian “businessman” so much that four years ago he splurged on the most expensive condominium ever sold in Manhattan ($88 million).

As for Trump, there’s no way of knowing if he’s used any dirty money from the Russian Mob to fund his campaign. In fact, there’s no way of knowing so much about Donald Trump’s business career that the best way to get a clearer picture of who he is may be to check out who he does business with.

How Donald Trump became Donald Trump

For anyone lucky enough to have never seen an episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” here’s a quick reminder of how Donald Trump became Donald Trump.

Long before becoming a Presidential candidate, Trump was a famous icon from an especially questionable time in America, the “go-go” ‘80’s,” when robber barons walked the earth unafraid, while on TV a British twit named Robin Leach rhapsodized about them between commercials.

It was a time when things—at least law enforcement-wise—were clearly well out of hand. The enormous amount of cocaine money sloshing around the banking system in Miami made some banks there seem to bulge outwards over the sidewalk and drive-through window.

In the American economy in the 1980’s, drug money was as visible as an alligator in the Everglades sliding down the throat of a Burmese python.
Trump and Ivana were the first couple of the Greed Decade.  Trump was Gatsby with weird hair. His Daisy was a former Czech Olympian skier. A blond girl from the South with a syrupy smile waited in the wings. Gold fixtures everywhere. Everything was “real class.”

“In a decade of glitz, they were the glitziest; in a decade of greed, they were the greediest,” reported People magazine, laying it on a little thick. “The scrappy investor wheeling and dealing his way to a fortune… And an outsider charming and clawing her way into New York’s most refined social circles.”

Being a big-time real estate developer was never more fun. Romantic three-day weekends in your many-splendored mansion by the sea in Palm Beach. Dancing in the disco in your designer art deco hotel in South Beach.

That was then, this is now. See any difference?

In “Stash Pad” in New York Magazine, Andrew Rice reported, “The New York real-estate market is now the premier destination for wealthy foreigners with rubles, yuan, and dollars to hide.”

Imagine what Florida must be like…  Today in Miami, rising  above miles of strip malls,  convenience stores, pawn shops, and gas stations,  is a row of skyscrapers so baroque that they conjure up only one man: Donald Trump.

Three Trump Towers, and three other Trump-branded properties in Sunny Isles, including the Trump International Beach Resort, loom over beachfront Collins Avenue, where they are a favorite home away from home for Russian Mobsters.

Sunny Isles has numerous real estate agencies owned by Russians that cater heavily to Eastern European clients, among them Exclusively Baranoff Realty, which operates from an office in the lobby of the Trump International Beach Resort. Thanks to its heavy Russian presence, Sunny Isles has acquired the nickname “Little Moscow.”

In a profile in The Nation magazine called “Miami: Where Luxury Real Estate Meets Dirty Money” Ken Silverstein writes:

“One night I had dinner and felt like I’d been transported into a Russian version of Goodfellas. A Russian singer performed on a stage with disco lights while customers ordered skewered sturgeon, and clinked forks on glasses to announce toasts before downing shots of vodka. A man who looked 70 spoke in Russian to his wife, who appeared at least 40 years younger. At another table,  a man about the same age was seated with a young woman in blue jean shorts, a halter top and cowboy boots.”

Trump welcome mat out for international grifters

Just how easy does Donald Trump make it for foreign representatives of organized crime to buy real estate from him? Silverstein writes:

“She took me to see a unit on the thirty-eighth floor of Trump Palace, which looked out on the turquoise waters of the Atlantic and was on the market for $2.3 million. “Living in a Trump property is like living in a hotel,” she told me, as we stood on a balcony. The unit was attractively priced, she said cheerfully, and all the more so as the owner, a Russian looking to buy a bigger condo elsewhere in the area, had spent at least $350,000 on improvements.

Later that day, I obtained the property records for the condo. The legal owner is a company registered in Belize, an offshore haven where, according to a government website, there “is no requirement to file annual returns or public disclosure of directors, shareholders, charges, loans or agreements.”

In other words, the true owner of the Trump Palace unit is untraceable.

Even the New York Post, which could be excused for being sensitive to talk about lax immigration letting in the world’s richest undesirables, chimed in.” New York’s swankiest skyscrapers have become the new Swiss banks for the world’s richest undesirables.”

“Today, Switzerland has cleaned up its act and the “filthy” rich have turned to New York City, turning it into a secrecy haven to stash their cash through the use of shell companies.”

Donald Trump called him “The Legend.”

Instead of one of the many famous names in Trump’s “Great Circle,”  let’s begin with someone who’s no longer well-known. Louis Lesser was once as big a name in real estate development as Donald Trump’s, but by the time he died he had become a forgotten man.

Lesser (third from right in pic) was once the biggest developer in the history of the western U.S., developing housing  for military personnel during World War II, then grew wealthy developing, owning and leasing properties to the U.S. military during the Cold War, locking up numerous contracts under Kennedy and Johnson for developments for military industrial complex clients.

Louis Lesser was a partner with Syndicate legend Meyer Lansky and Kirk Kerkorian in buying up Las Vegas hotels and casinos. He had extensive ties with Howard Hughes. He developed, owned, and leased many properties to Hughes’ Aircraft, including a massive project in Newport Beach.

Lesser helped Hughes buy up hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. When Lesser sold his Frontier Hotel and Casino to Hughes, it was the beginning of Hughes’ take-over there. In an example of Trump’s synergistic Great Chain of Life, years later, Donald Trump erected the Trump Hotel Las Vegas on a portion of the property.

Louis Lesser, when he resigned as chairman of Louis Lesser Enterprises in 1967, was replaced by an associate of Henry Salvatori, who the L.A. Times called a “GOP Kingmaker.”

In 1964, Salvatori chaired Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign in California. He convinced Goldwater to allow Ronald Reagan to give a televised fundraising speech entitled “A Time for Choosing,” which launched Reagan’s political career. Salvatori became a prominent member of Ronald Reagan’s “kitchen cabinet.”

Trump’s “Great Circle” buddy Louis Lesser (cont.)

Louis Lesser sold his Taj Mahal Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City to Donald Trump.

Later, when the casino went bankrupt, a court filing in the bankruptcy proceedings revealed Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino listed Fincen (The U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) as an unsecured creditor, meaning it hadn’t paid the record $10 million penalty (the largest the agency ever levied on a casino) for what FINCEN called  “money laundering failures.”

What follows is  an example of how Trump associates blend into each other, and manage to stay just a step or two in front of the law.

In the late 1980’s Louis Lesser’s son Craig became partners in real estate with Imelda Marcos, fronting for the real principals, Louis Lesser and Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos. On an outing with Imelda and a military contingent, Craig Lesser  helped uncover part of the fabled cache of gold buried by the Japanese in the Philippines at the end of Word War II.

In Gold Warriors (2002), Sterling and Peggy Seagrave detail a “great fortune discovered by U.S. intelligence services in 1946 … $13-billion in war loot amassed by underworld godfather Kodama Yoshio who, as a rear admiral in the Imperial Navy working with Golden Lily in China and Southeast Asia, was in charge of plundering the Asian underworld and racketeers. He was also in charge of Japan’s wartime drug trade throughout Asia

Craig Lesser sent back a solid gold antique vase to his father, which took several men to lift, and which was displayed on the mantle at Louis Lesser’s mansion, once the largest private residence in Beverly Hills.

Until TV producer Aaron Spelling built “The Manor,” a home that rivals a mid-sized hotel in square footage, Louis Lesser lived in the largest house in Beverly Hills. In fact, his house at 1156 Shadow Hill Way was used extensively during production of Beverly Hills 90210.

Its current occupant, Pearlasia Gamboa, is a Filipino-American business woman who’s been involved in massive fraud, and was the president of a “micro-nation” called theDominion of Melchizedek, an atoll in the South Pacific which lies underwater at high tide,  used as a front for fraudulent criminal activity.

Bank of England officials raided the London premises of a company which offered get-rich-quick investment schemes backed by a phony bank ”registered” in Melchizedek. ”It appears to exist mainly so that money can be whisked through shell banks,”reported the Washington Post.

Is it oddly telling, or mere happenstance, or just another illustration of Trump’s “Great Circle of Life,” that Trump business associate Louis Lesser, who had much to do with providing entree into the world of casino gambling, owns a home (he’s dead, his son Craig is still associated with the property) that’s a nexus for international financial swindlers?

Time out for a little comic relief 

When Imelda Marcos went on trial in New York in 1990 for laundering tens of millions of dollars belonging to the people of the Philippines, her co-defendant was another close Trump associate, Adnan Khashoggi.  (Both Marcos and Khashoggi were acquitted.)

The first time I saw Donald Trump’s name linked with Adnan Khashoggi’s was in a wickedly funny article from the early 90’s in Spy Magazine called  ”Who is America’s cheapest zillionaire?”

Spy magazine— cruel, brilliant, beautifully-written, and feared by all—incorporated a company called the National Refund Clearinghouse, gave it its own checking account, and zipped out refund checks to 58 “well-known, well-heeled Americans” for $1.11 apiece.

Chortling, the magazine’s editors settled back to see who cashed them.

26 frugal people—“The Bargain-Basement 26,” including Cher, Harry Helmsley, Michael Douglas, Shirley MacLaine, Kurt Vonnegut, and Donald Trump and Adnan Khashoggi, who partied together in swank Palm Beach Florida—cashed their $1.11 checks.

Each then receive a second “National Refund Clearinghouse” check,  for 64 cents,  half the amount of the first check as compensation said a cover letter,  for ”a computer error.’  Trump, Khashoggi, and 11 other extraordinarily cheap people each cashed checks for 64 cents apiece.

“The Chintzy 13” then each received a final check for 13 cents.

Donald Trump & Adnan Khashoggi were the last men standing. Trump, who the magazine called a “short-fingered-vulgarian,” and Khashoggi, who personally endorsed his on the back, each cashed checks totaling one dime and three pennies.

Whether by accident, coincidence, or cosmic design, over the next two decades Trump and Khashoggi’s names will be inextricably linked.

 


Discussion

3 comments for “FTR #903 Daniel Hopsicker on Donald Trump and How He Is Going to Make America Great Again”

  1. Its nice to see Daniel back

    Posted by adam | May 10, 2016, 10:36 am
  2. Given the mobbed-up nature of Donald Trump’s business partners Daniel Hopsicker has been covering, and the obviously massive opportunities for money-laundering and all sorts of other shady business practices that come with being a global developer and real estate magnet, the disclosure of a nice, clean set of tax returns would seem like the kind of thing the Trump campaign will obviously want to disclose sooner or later. Of course, since this is the Trump campaign we’re talking about, the disclosure schedule is looking like more like never. So what’s tucked away in those mystery returns? We don’t get to know. But we do get to infer:

    The New York Times
    The Upshot

    What We Can Learn From Donald Trump’s Unreleased Tax Returns

    Justin Wolfers
    MAY 11, 2016

    One of the constants of modern elections is that presidential candidates have released their recent tax returns. There is no law requiring this. This transparency is based on a norm. It’s a norm that has persisted through all modern elections, even among candidates who have suffered a degree of political embarrassment.

    But Donald Trump has told The Associated Press that he does not expect to release his tax returns before the election, citing a continuing audit. Despite earlier assurances that he would release them, his stated argument is that “there’s nothing to learn from them.”

    There may indeed be nothing interesting to learn from Mr. Trump’s returns. But economic theory about the incentives for disclosure suggests that voters may reach the opposite conclusion. After all, choosing not to disclose something is an action that reveals something.

    A thought experiment will help illustrate why. Let’s say that you are running for president, and your tax returns are the absolute classiest tax returns imaginable. Your income is honestly earned, you pay an appropriate amount of tax, you don’t use questionable tax maneuvers, and your returns show that you give generously to charities that do good work. In this situation, you want to release your tax returns so that the voters will think more highly of you.

    What if your tax returns are very classy, but not quite this classy? If you don’t release your returns, voters will infer that they’re not the very best tax returns. And if that’s all they know, they’ll infer that you’re in the middle of the pack of those who don’t disclose — that they’re merely pretty good. This means that if your returns are better than pretty good and you make your tax returns public, you’ll rise in the electorate’s estimation. And so you voluntarily reveal your returns, so that the voters learn that you’re better than they would otherwise think.

    O.K., now we’re in a world in which everyone with at least pretty good tax returns makes them public. What if yours are only mildly embarrassing? If you don’t release them, the public will infer that your returns are definitely no better than “pretty good,” and perhaps much worse than that. But “mildly embarrassing” isn’t so bad compared with the universe of tax returns that are worse than “pretty good,” so you’re better off disclosing.

    This explains why candidates like Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton were willing to release their returns, despite revealing useful ammunition for their opponents. In each case, it was a savvy choice, because not revealing would have led voters to infer they were hiding something worse.

    This incentive to disclose keeps cascading.

    Those with the cleanest tax returns disclose, leading those with the next cleanest returns to disclose, so as to differentiate themselves from the dirtier non-disclosers. As more people disclose, the remaining pool of non-disclosers is even worse, and the least rotten among them will want to disclose to escape the inference that they have something to hide.

    It’s disclosure all the way down.

    If you’ve got the second-worst tax return imaginable, and everyone who is cleaner than you discloses, the public will infer that you’ve either got the worst or the second-worst possible return. Far better to clear up the confusion that you don’t have the most dishonorable tax return that’s possible, and so you also choose to release your tax returns.

    Follow this logic, and you’re left to infer that the only person who won’t voluntarily release their tax returns must have the most to hide. It doesn’t just say that Mr. Trump has more to hide than Mrs. Clinton; it says that he has more to hide than any other candidate you could imagine.

    Think about it. The problem for Mr. Trump is that the voters don’t know if he’s Honest Donald or some other Donald. But Mr. Trump knows. If he’s Honest Donald, he’ll release his tax returns to make sure that voters know that he’s neither dodgy nor deplorable. And if he’s dodgy, he will release his returns so that we know he’s not deplorable. Only Deplorable Donald — the worst possible Trump — has no incentive to disclose.

    By this logic, a candidate would hide tax returns only if they paint a terrible picture about finances and integrity. (If there were the risk that Mr. Trump’s returns would reveal commercially valuable information, that would be a reason that he could be not-seedy yet still want to keep his returns private. He has yet to make this argument, though.)

    There’s something distinct about information: Refusing to share it doesn’t keep voters in the dark. If they think about why, the choice not to reveal it is very revealing.

    “Follow this logic, and you’re left to infer that the only person who won’t voluntarily release their tax returns must have the most to hide. It doesn’t just say that Mr. Trump has more to hide than Mrs. Clinton; it says that he has more to hide than any other candidate you could imagine.”
    Yep. It’s pretty bad. But then again, being a bad boy is basically Trump’s brand. So who knows, maybe his refusal to release anything will just add to his mystique. He could be like Bruce Wayne and secretly financing the Bat Cave for some sort of secret vigilante work. A secret Bat Cave would create all sorts of tax complications.

    But also note that he did dangle the possibility of releasing his returns after the election. If he loses he obviously won’t release them, but if he does become president it’s still going to be very interesting to see those 2016 tax returns even if it’s too little, too late. Why? To compare to Trump’s 2017 tax returns after the Great Trumpian Tax Break of 2017 slashes taxes on the super-rich:

    The New York Times
    The Upshot

    Donald Trump’s Plan to Raise Taxes on Rich: Just Kidding

    Peter Eavis
    MAY 11, 2016

    The 1 percent can breathe a small collective sigh of relief.

    Hillary Clinton’s platform contains many new taxes for the wealthy, and in recent days it seemed that Donald J. Trump might be moving in the same direction. When asked Sunday on “Meet the Press” about taxing the rich, Mr. Trump said: “For the wealthy, I think, frankly, it’s going to go up. And you know what? It really should go up.”

    He now says he wasn’t talking about the current income tax rate for people in the highest bracket, which is 39.6 percent. If he had been, it would have been a big move for Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, to push that rate higher. His official tax plan envisions a top rate of 25 percent.

    In a phone interview on Monday, I sought clarification from Mr. Trump on his remarks about raising taxes on the rich. I asked him whether the highest earners would be paying more than 39.6 percent if he were president.

    “No, in fact, you’d be lower than that,” Mr. Trump said.

    But how, given that he had said that taxes would be going up for the wealthy? Mr. Trump explained that he meant he might have to accept a top tax rate that is higher than the 25 percent his plan calls for. To get his tax plans through Congress, he would probably have to compromise, but even after such concessions, the top rate would be lower than it is now, he said.

    Mr. Trump’s tax cuts may help win over voters who are concerned about his other ideas or the tone of his campaign.

    Still, some of his support comes from people whose economic prospects have dimmed as the wealthy have gotten richer. And according to tax analysts, the rich would have a bigger tax windfall than the middle class under Mr. Trump.

    The Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the center-left Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, calculates that Mr. Trump’s policies would on average give the top 1 percent of taxpayers a federal tax cut of $275,000, or 17.5 percent of their after-tax income, while middle-income households would get a $2,700 tax cut, equivalent to 5 percent of their after-tax income.

    So, I asked Mr. Trump, why not tax the rich at higher rates than they are subject to today?

    “I really want to keep taxes for everybody as low as possible,” he said. “When you start making them too high, you are going to lose people from the country, and oftentimes these are the people who create the jobs.”

    Mr. Trump’s tax plans could leave him vulnerable on another front. Budget analysts say that slashing taxes by the amounts he envisions would lead to a sharp drop in revenue. The Tax Policy Center estimates a drop in revenue of $9.5 trillion over 10 years. To put that sum in perspective, the federal government took in revenue of $3.2 trillion last year. If spending were not cut in response, and a much faster-growing economy did not provide a lot more revenue, the federal government would have to borrow to cover the shortfall, pushing up the national debt.

    These predictions of a big shortfall allow Mrs. Clinton to promote herself as a sound fiscal manager, which could help in her efforts to attract moderate Republicans put off by Mr. Trump. Mrs. Clinton’s tax increases would in theory mostly offset her spending, according to a study by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan policy organization.

    Mr. Trump, for his part, disputes the notion that steep declines in revenue would result from his tax cuts. “Those numbers are crazy,” he said, noting that the economy grew strongly after the big Reagan tax cuts. (It’s worth noting that the economy also grew strongly after tax increases by Bill Clinton.)

    And what if Mrs. Clinton says she is the fiscal conservative and he is not? “But she’s not going to get the economy going,” Mr. Trump said.

    By focusing her tax increases almost entirely on the wealthy, Mrs. Clinton says she does not have to squeeze more from the middle class. That stance helps her strike a chord with voters who are concerned about income inequality and, if she locks up the nomination, could help her pull in Bernie Sanders supporters in November.

    In Mrs. Clinton’s tax plan, a large chunk of the extra revenue would come from limiting how much high earners can deduct from their taxable income. People would pay an extra 4 percent of tax on income over $5 million. And those with income over $1 million would face a minimum tax of 30 percent, called the Buffett Rule. Mrs. Clinton’s proposed changes to estate taxes would also lead to the rich paying more.

    Mr. Trump, in addition to cutting income taxes for the rich, intends to get rid of the estate tax altogether.

    “The Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the center-left Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, calculates that Mr. Trump’s policies would on average give the top 1 percent of taxpayers a federal tax cut of $275,000, or 17.5 percent of their after-tax income, while middle-income households would get a $2,700 tax cut, equivalent to 5 percent of their after-tax income.”
    Well, while we don’t know what Trump’s tax returns are this year, we do know that they’ll be a lot nicer for Mr. T in 2017. And then the national deficit and debt explodes and the estate tax goes away. It’s all a reminder that the contents of The Donald’s tax returns, while potentially relevant to voters for assessing his character, aren’t nearly as relevant to voters as his declared plans for everyone’s taxes.

    Still, it would be fun to learn more about what’s in those returns.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 11, 2016, 3:01 pm
  3. It looks like Donald Trump’s political brand as the guy that doesn’t owe anyone anything because he has all the money he needs to run a major political campaign on his own is getting a few asterisks:

    The New York Times

    Sheldon Adelson Is Poised to Give Donald Trump a Donation Boost

    By JONATHAN MARTIN
    MAY 13, 2016

    The casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson told Donald J. Trump in a private meeting last week that he was willing to contribute more to help elect him than he has to any previous campaign, a sum that could exceed $100 million, according to two Republicans with direct knowledge of Mr. Adelson’s commitment.

    As significant, Mr. Adelson, a billionaire based in Las Vegas, has decided that he will significantly scale back his giving to congressional Republicans and direct most of his contributions to groups dedicated to Mr. Trump’s campaign. The two Republicans familiar with Mr. Adelson’s plans spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    Mr. Adelson’s pledge to Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, comes at an opportune time. Mr. Trump has relied on a mix of his own wealth and small-dollar contributions to finance his primary effort and lacks the sort of major donor network needed to sustain him in the general election. Mr. Trump has said that he may need $1 billion for the campaign but has only recently begun scheduling fund-raisers and hiring finance staff members. Many of the Republican Party’s wealthiest contributors, including the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, have indicated they are unlikely to give to his candidacy.

    What remains unclear is how Mr. Adelson plans to contribute his money to Mr. Trump. He will give the maximum allowed to Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee, but to spend the amount he contemplates would require donating through a “super PAC,” able to accept unlimited donations.

    According to the Republicans familiar with Mr. Adelson’s planning, he and his advisers are still uncertain about which super PAC to use as their vehicle for the bulk of the contributions. They are wary of some of the current groups that purportedly exist to help Mr. Trump, who has been clear that he is uneasy with outside entities promoting his candidacy. At rallies, he has consistently criticized opponents who relied on super PACS, saying they were being bought by wealthy donors.

    Mr. Adelson, 82, the chief executive of Las Vegas Sands, is among the world’s wealthiest individuals and has given hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican candidates and causes over the years. In 2012, he contributed at least $98 million to Republican efforts, according to a study by ProPublica. But that money went to 34 separate campaigns and groups.

    Mr. Adelson is frustrated by congressional gridlock and believes the only way to affect the country’s political system is to ensure a Republican president is elected, say the Republicans familiar with his thinking.

    While he may help some local or gubernatorial candidates, he is not planning to give much to congressional candidates or super PACs dedicated to keeping Republican control of the House and Senate, a substantial blow given the largess he has showered on them in recent elections.

    Mr. Trump assured the Adelsons that he was dedicated to protecting Israel’s security, an issue about which the couple are passionate.

    The Adelsons contributed to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas during the Republican primaries, but kept a far lower profile than they had in 2012, when Mr. Adelson was a major benefactor of Newt Gingrich. Mr. Trump targeted Mr. Adelson on Twitter in October, writing that Mr. Adelson wanted to make Senator Marco Rubio of Florida “his perfect little puppet.”

    But Mr. Adelson was plainly not bothered — or he at least forgave Mr. Trump. He told reporters last week he would get behind Mr. Trump and wrote an op-ed article in Friday’s Washington Post extolling his fellow casino owner.

    “He is a candidate with actual CEO experience, shaped and molded by the commitment and risk of his own money rather than the public’s,” Mr. Adelson wrote, adding that Mr. Trump “has created a movement in this country that cannot be denied.”

    “The Adelsons contributed to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas during the Republican primaries, but kept a far lower profile than they had in 2012, when Mr. Adelson was a major benefactor of Newt Gingrich. Mr. Trump targeted Mr. Adelson on Twitter in October, writing that Mr. Adelson wanted to make Senator Marco Rubio of Florida “his perfect little puppet.”
    Wow, this is turning into quite the casino candidacy. When Josh Marshall recently joked that “the United States is not a struggling casino” in response to Donald Trump’s suggestion that he could reduce the national debt by asking holders of US Treasuries to just accept a “haircut”, it appears that comment wasn’t cynical enough. With a casino magnet like Adelson emerging the overwhelmingly largest supporter of Trump’s campaign, it’s looking like the US is possibly going to be run as a struggling casino by a casino owner as the puppet of an ever richer casino owner.
    In related news, if Donald Trump should become president, the laws regarding money-laundering charges related to casinos operating in, let’s say, Macau, are probably going to be near the top of the list for high-priority regulatory overhauls. At the same time, the US government’s ties with at least some Chinese leaders could improve in unexpected ways. Perhaps not desirable ways or official leaders, but they could improve.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 14, 2016, 4:28 pm

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