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FTR #936 The Making of Donald Trump (Top Banana Republic), Part 5

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

making-of-trumpthinkbignkickassIntroduction: In the aftermath of the ascension of Donald Trump to the Presidency, we are doing something unprecedented in the long history of For The Record. Earlier in 2016, award-winning journalist David Cay Johnston published a very well-written and researched, yet relatively short and compact biography of Donald Trump–The Making of Donald Trump (Melville House [HC]; copyright 2016 by David Cay Johnston; ISBN 978-1-61219-632-9.)

For some weeks, we have been–and will be–reading most of the book into the record, to provide people with a measure against which to evaluate not just “The Donald,” as his first wife Ivana called him, but our society, its institutions and its citizens. We can’t recommend strongly enough that listeners buy this book, read it and use whatever means available to spread the word about it. (We note that neither Mr. Emory nor any of the stations that air this program get money from this book, its publisher or author.)

Although we originally planned to read the whole book into the record, the acceleration of events demands coverage and we will be turning to as much of those developments as we can highlight, under the circumstances.

The broadcast begins with another reading of the poem Be Angry at the Sun by Robinson Jeffers.

“Be Angry at the Sun” by Robinson Jeffers

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.

Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.

Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.

You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante’s feet, but even farther from his dirty
Political hatreds.

Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.

This fifth and final installment of the series references the substance of an article that embodies the enormous and fundamental flaw in our political and civic process: a poll shortly before the election found that most of the prospective voters polled felt that Trump was more honest and trustworthy than Hillary Clinton. As our reading of Johnston’s excellent book unfolds, the grotesque, spectacularly fallacious character of this perception will become uncomfortably clear. Donald Trump is currently tracking as the more honest of the two presidential candidates in a poll, although fact-checking of his statements during the campaign have shown he’s lied several times. The latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll reports that 46 percent of likely voters believe he is the more honest and trustworthy candidate, while 38 percent believed it was Hillary Clinton. This marks the biggest gap between the two candidates in five ABC News/Washington Post polls that asked the question, beginning in May.”

In the previous program, we opined that we all, in a sense, are enrolled in Trump University. By the same token, we could all be said to be playing the board game Trump: The Game. ” . . . . Then there’s his Monopoly-like board game. When Trump and executives from Milton-Bradley introduced Trump: The Game in 1989, the developer surprised everyone by declaring those royalties would go to charity, too. Milton-Bradley took Trump at his word. It also figured it might improve sales, which were weak, if people realized their purchases would not enrich a presumed billionaire but go to charity. Its television ads told potential buyers: ‘Mr. Trump’s proceeds from Trump: The Game will be donated to charity.’ . . . Trump has said he made $808,000 and that the money was donated to his Donald J. Trump Foundation. . . . At the time, I spent a day calling New York and New Jersey charities trying to find any disclosures of gifts made by Trump. . . . But call after call produced nothing. . . .”  (The Making of Donald Trump; p. 17.)

Trump appeared to have won over a majority of voting military veterans and a poll of active-duty service members indicated that most preferred Trump. Trump himself avoided military service during the Vietnam War. ” . . . . Donald turned eighteen in 1964, when the death toll in Vietnam was rising fast. He got four student deferments and one medical deferment, after his doctor wrote that he had a bone spur in his foot. Which foot? a journalist asked years later. Trump said he could not recall. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump; pp. 131-132.)

In the fall of 2015, Trump boycotted a GOP primary campaign debate because Megyn Kelly was to be the on-air host. Trump instead went to an event on the Battleship Iowa museum to what he misrepresented as a major veterans organization. ” . . . . Trump instead went to the Battleship Iowa, now a museum at anchor in Long Beach, California, to deliver what his campaign said would be a major address on national defense. Trump praised the sponsor of the event, Veterans for a Strong America, and told the audience that ‘hundreds of thousands’ of people belonged to the organization. There were evidently two related organizations, both nonprofits, though Trump and his host never made that clear to the audience on the ship or watching on television. One was a charity, the other one of those dark money political groups that have expanded since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, enabling money from undisclosed sources to influence elections. A quick internet check would revealed to the Trump campaign that the IRS had revoked the nonprofit status of Veterans for a Strong America due to their failure to file required disclosure reports. A charity disclosure organization, Guidestar, reported that it had no record of any board of directors, Every indication pointed to Veterans for a Strong America being a one-man enterprise run by a South Dakota lawyer named Joel Arends, whose operation was under investigation for suspected election improprieties in Arizona and Texas. Reporters later learned the organization had thirty dollars in the bank and debts ten times that size. None of this was in line with Trump’s promotion of the group’s immense size, influence, and good works. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump; pp. 135-136.)

Next, the program highlights how Trump promotes himself and his projects using The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. Trump, his daughter Ivanka, his son Donald, Jr., the chief operating officer of the Trump Organization (Donald Calamari) and Trump’s butler Anthony Senecal are major figures in this organization. The main figure in the organization is Joseph Cinque, aka “Joey No Socks” or “The Preppy Don.” ” . . . If those sound like names that might be associated with a figure involved in organized crime, it’s because they are. New York police with a search warrant knocked on the door of Cinque’s Park Avenue South apartment in 1989. Cinque declined to let them in. The police applied a battering ram. Inside the apartment they found a trove of stolen art, including two Marc Chagall prints valued at $40,000. they had been taken in an art gallery heist. Cinque made a deal to plead to a misdemeanor, but prosecutors scrapped the plea bargain after Cinque was seen talking to John Gotti, the ‘dapper don’ who became head of the Gambino crime family by arranging the murder of his predecessor Paul Castellano–one of the secret owners of the company that supplied concrete for many Trump buildings.

“Gotti told Cinque that he would ‘take care of the DA,’ an apparent reference to Anne Heyman, the prosecutor who had offered the plea bargain. . . . Heyman ordered a more thorough investigation of Cinque. She alleged that the investigation showed that Cinque ‘was dealing drugs out of his apartment and fencing stolen art-work.’ Heyman also said that Cinque’s apartment on Central Park South appeared to be a retail outlet for stolen clothing, including Armani suits and silk shirts. In 1990, Cinque pleaded guilty to a felony: receiving stolen property. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump; p. 158.)

Another interesting, close associate of Donald Trump was Felix Satter, who changed the spelling of his name, adding an extra “T” to avoid being recognized on internet searches. ” . . . ‘Satter’s’ name appears with just one ‘T’ in a host of places. There’s the deed to his home for example. It is also spelled with only one ‘T’ on New York State court papers from his 1991 felony conviction for stabbing a man in the face with the stem of a margarita glass. The name Sater with one ‘T’ also appears on federal court papers in a $40 million organized crime stock swindle he confessed to in 1998, a scheme that benefited him as well as the Genovese and Gambino crime families. The stock swindle involved fake stock brokerage firms using high-pressure tactics to get naive people to buy worthless shares from Sater and his mob friends. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump; p. 162.)

Trump’s close associate Felix was able to escape serious legal retribution by going to work for the CIA. ” . . . . There is every indication that the extraordinarily lenient treatment resulted from Sater playing a get-out-of-jail free card. Shortly before his secret guilty plea, Sater became a freelance operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. One of his fellow stock swindlers, Salvatore Lauria, wrote a book about it. The Scorpion and the Frog is described on its cover as ‘the true story of one man’s fraudulent rise and fall n the Wall Street of the nineties.’ According to Lauria–and the court files that have been unsealed–Sater helped the CIA buy small missiles before they got to terrorists. He also provided other purported national security services for a reported fee of $300,000. Stories abound as to what else Sater may or may not have done in the arena of national security. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump; p. 165.)

The last text reading concludes with discussion of Trump’s unsavory real estate deals. Luring unwary buyers in with the prestigious Trump brand name, ‘The Donald” left a great many of them high and dry when the truth emerged about what was really going on. In this sense, too, we are ALL investors in the Trump brand name, and likely to receive the same treatment as his unwary real estate customers.

A Baja California (Mexico) project is typical of Trump’s methodology and operations in this regard. ” . . . . A June 2007 newsletter notified buyers that construction was underway. The next month, the Trump Baja News reported, ‘our new and excited homeowners now are part of an elite group of vacation homeowners who own property developed by one of the most respected names in real estate, Donald J. Trump.’ Three months later, in October, when Wall Street crashed under the weight of the toxic mortgages and other Baja real estate projects faltered, the same newsletter carried a message ‘From the desk of Ivanka Trump.’ Ivanka assured the buyers that their investment was sound. ‘Though it may be rue that some of Baja’s developments could slow down, these market conditions simply do not apply to Trump Ocean Resort–or any other Trump development,’ she wrote.

“Two months later, in December 2007, the newsletter advised buyers of newly discovered geological problems afflicting the building site. A few months later, in March 2008, anxious buyers received calls or letters. Construction loans had been approved, would be funded shortly, and work would be underway. This was nine months after buyers had been told in writing that construction had already begun. Still, construction did not proceed.

“All of these promotions, sales pitches, and newsletter updates created the impression that Trump was the builder and the developer, words he used. The buyers later said they bought in because Trump was the developer or builder. That understanding then changed abruptly.

“The worst news arrived two before Christmas 2008. What had been described as a partnership between ‘the Trump Organization, Donald J. Trump,’ and the other people and companies involved was described in a new way. Neither Trump nor the Trump Organization were investment partners in the Trump Ocean Resort. They were not the developers, either. They had merely licensed the use of the Trump name. . . .” (The Making of Donald Trump; pp. 169-170.)

It is gruesomely ironic that the bulk of Trump’s scamming revolves around his real estate empire. It was, of course, the collapse of the real estate market that led to the financial collapse of 2008.

 

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #936 The Making of Donald Trump (Top Banana Republic), Part 5”

  1. Since ‘conflicts of interest’ is already one of the main themes of the Trump administration, it’s probably worth noting that if any Trump properties end up getting an award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences (AAHS), there’s a conflict of interest involved. As far as Trumpian conflicts of interest go at this point it’s one of the least important conflicts of interest we can imagine. And yet, unlike most of Trump’s conflicts of interest that he doesn’t seem ashamed of at all, Donald Trump doesn’t appear to be very open about the conflicts of interest with the AAHS. In fact, whenever you mention the AAHS he suddenly goes all senile and forgets almost all of his ties to the organization. How odd. Maybe that has something to do with the mob ties:

    Yahoo News

    A convicted felon handed Donald Trump a ‘one-of-a-kind bronze eagle award’ on New Year’s Eve

    Hunter Walker, National Correspondent
    January 3, 2017

    When Donald Trump addressed revelers at the annual New Year’s Eve bar at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida on Saturday, he was standing next to Joe Cinque, a convicted felon with rumored Mafia ties. Video published by the Palm Beach Daily News showed Cinque beaming as the president-elect gave brief remarks about his agenda.

    “Your taxes are coming down, regulations are coming off, we’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” Trump said as Cinque pumped his fists in the air.

    Cinque is the president and CEO of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, an organization that hands out Star Diamond awards to restaurants, hotels and businesses. The organization has extensive links to Trump.

    According to the AAHS Facebook page, Cinque was at Mar-a-Lago to present Trump with “a One-of-a-Kind bronze Eagle award.” Pictures on the group’s page showed Trump being given a large statue of a flying eagle as Cinque stood by his side.

    Prior to his work in the hospitality industry, Cinque had colorful past. In 1995, he was profiled by New York magazine. That article, which was written by John Connolly, said that Cinque had been “shot three times and left for dead” in 1980, in an incident Cinque described as a “robbery.” In the story, Connolly wrote that unnamed officials said it was “more likely a hit.” Connolly also noted that Cinque “used to be friends with John Gotti” and was known by the nicknames “Joey No Socks” and “the Preppy Don.” The New York article also chronicled how, in 1989, “Cinque was arrested on felony charges; police had retrieved a gallery’s worth of stolen art from his apartment.” Cinque later pleaded guilty to felony charges in that case. Cinque was also accused of criminal behavior in excerpts of a rambling, novelistic memoir published on a personal website by Richard Lawrence Dombroff, a former high profile plastic surgeon who was convicted of defrauding patients in 1987 and was convicted on fraud charges again in 2003 for allegedly operating a financial scam.

    Yahoo News reached out to Cinque, the AAHS and Trump’s presidential transition team for this story. None of them responded to our requests for comment.

    The AAHS has described Cinque as a fixture at Trump’s annual Mar-a-Lago New Year’s Eve fetes.

    Yahoo News reported on Cinque’s relationship with Trump in May of last year. The article highlighted a 2015 blog post on the Star Diamond website that said Cinque “has been attending Mr. Trump’s party for the past 16 years” and “has become dear friends with the Trump family.” That blog post has since been deleted. The Star Diamond site also featured pictures of Cinque standing next to Trump in Mar-a-Lago’s ballroom and on stage at the Florida club presenting the future president-elect with another trophy in 2014.

    Despite their clear connections, Trump denied being familiar with Cinque when speaking in May to Yahoo News.

    “I don’t know him. I just find him to be a very nice man, and I don’t know his background. I really don’t,” Trump said of Cinque.

    He repeatedly stressed that he didn’t know Cinque “well.”

    Trump previously held one of the top three positions on the AAHS’ board of trustees. Archived versions of the organization’s Web page show that Trump was listed as its “ambassador extraordinaire” from at least 2013 until June 2015,, when he launched his presidential campaign. But Trump told Yahoo News he “wasn’t involved” with AAHS and implied his title was largely ceremonial.

    “I think I might have been on something, ambassador extraordinaire, you know. I never went to a meeting or anything,” Trump said.

    However, Trump’s ties to Cinque’s group didn’t end with his title. Members of Trump’s family and multiple executives at his real estate company, the Trump Organization, have also been listed on the academy’s board of trustees, which selects award winners. AAHS gave Star Diamond awards to many Trump properties.

    Handing out these Star Diamond awards, which the academy has called the “most prestigious emblem of achievement and true quality in the world today,” is the organization’s central activity. As “ambassador extraordinaire,” Trump’s signature adorned the Star Diamond plaques along with two other board members, Cinque and travel agent Bill Fischer.

    ““I don’t know him. I just find him to be a very nice man, and I don’t know his background. I really don’t,” Trump said of Cinque.”

    LOL! Oh look, another individual with mob ties that Trump just sort of kind of knows, but doesn’t really know that well…despite celebrating New Years Eve with the guy. And despite once holding the number three position on the AAHS board of trustees. And despite his family and employees also serving on the board. This Joe Cinque must be some sort of recluse….just hanging out at home with stolen art all day or something.

    Still, you would think Trump would know Cinque a little better than he claimed to know him. After all, it’s not like Cinque hasn’t been attending Trump’s New Years Eve parties since 1999:

    Yahoo News

    How a convicted felon nicknamed ‘Joey No Socks’ covered Donald Trump in stars

    Hunter Walker, National Correspondent
    May 20, 2016

    It’s about as Trump as a moment gets. There was the Donald at his new golf club in the rolling Scottish dunes. He was holding a massive, gleaming, gold-colored plaque the venue “The Best Golf Course Worldwide.” Trump, the real estate mogul and now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, wore a hat with his name on it and a massive grin.

    The gaudy plaque Trump carried that day in 2013 was a Star Diamond award distributed by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences — a group that turns out to have extensive ties with Trump.

    Joseph Cinque, the academy’s president and CEO, personally presented the award to Trump in Scotland. It was one of many similar honors Cinque has bestowed upon him in the past decade. Cinque, who has been described by the academy as one of Trump’s “dear friends,” is also a convicted felon who reportedly survived a murder attempt, was associated with the infamous mob boss John Gotti and went on to earn the nicknames “Joey No Socks” and “the Preppy Don.”

    Trump recently held one of the top three slots on the organization’s board of trustees, with the ostentatious title of “Ambassador Extraordinaire.” Members of Trump’s family and multiple executives at his company, the Trump Organization, have also sat on the academy’s board of trustees, which selects award winners. Cinque runs the academy out of his apartment on Central Park South in Manhattan, just blocks from Trump Tower.

    In a conversation with Yahoo News on Thursday morning, Trump denied he had any involvement with the ratings group, which has bestowed numerous five- and six-star ratings on his properties.

    “I mean, I receive awards from different places sometimes, but I’m not involved in it. How am I involved in it?” said Trump.

    Trump indicated he didn’t know much about the academy’s board of trustees — on which he, two of his sons and multiple members of his organizations have served. He also claimed he doesn’t know Cinque well.

    “He may have set up a board of trustees. I don’t know. I don’t know that my sons are involved with that, actually,” Trump said, adding, “But he’s a very nice man. I don’t know him well. I don’t know him well, but I have found him over the years to be a very nice man.”

    The academy’s central activity is handing out Star Diamond awards, which it has called the “most prestigious emblem of achievement and true quality in the world today.” Trophies are given out to a wide variety of businesses and individuals, with a focus on luxury travel and restaurants. Presenting plaques and holding awards ceremonies are the only activities described on the organization’s web site, which boasts that its awards give “a visual seal of approval by accredited institution.” The academy site brags that the Star Diamond is a “handcrafted plaque” that “denotes quality and luxury” and that patrons to a business will “notice” when one is “prominently displayed.”

    The academy is one of many players in what industry experts describe as a crowded landscape of travel ratings agencies with questionable standards and methods.

    In addition to the plaques, the academy also offers Star Diamond “desk plates,” “lapel pins” and “cufflinks.” And it boasts of other “benefits” promised by the foundation, such as sending out a press release announcing the award, to generate media coverage. The academy also publishes a magazine and a directory that promotes the winners.

    Even though a major function of the academy is to generate press for award recipients, the organization is currently in media blackout mode. Yahoo News called the academy’s headquarters at Cinque’s apartment. A woman who answered said, after realizing she was on the phone with a reporter, that Cinque would “not comment” on any story. She said she didn’t want to know any more about the reason for the call and suggested contacting the academy’s lawyer.

    In an angry email response, academy attorney Andrew Langsam threatened Yahoo News with legal action if it were to discuss decades-old news reports detailing accusations about the academy’s ratings practices, Cinque’s criminal record and his alleged ties to the mob.

    “We are not amused by this clear attempt to sully the Academy, Mr. Cinque and any of his friends or contacts. You will be held fully liable for any consequences,” Langsam wrote.

    For his part, Trump said he would “understand” if the academy, a nonpolitical group, had to cut ties with him. At the same time, he repeatedly stressed that he “wasn’t involved” with the group and suggested that his title was largely ceremonial.

    “I think I might have been on something, Ambassador Extraordinaire, you know. I never went to a meeting or anything,” Trump said.

    Langsam, the academy’s attorney, wrote:“I do not believe that Mr. Trump has any current relationship to The Academy.”

    In addition to his past role at the academy, Trump has had a long personal relationship with Cinque. One post on the Star Diamond website features an article on a party Trump held at his Mar-A-Lago club on the last night of 2014.

    “Joseph Cinque, President of The AAHS, has been attending Mr. Trump’s party for the past 16 years,” the article said. “It is somewhat of a new Years Eve tradition for him and of course, he has become dear friends with the Trump family.”

    Cinque presented Trump with a Star Diamond “lifetime achievement award” at that bash. The article features multiple photos of Cinque beaming alongside Trump and his family. Trump regularly has Cinque present him with awards at his events. Multiple photos on the academy site show Trump proudly awarding and receiving Star Diamond plaques. An academy promotional video features a clip of Trump, one of his buildings and a shot of Cinque standing in front of one of Trump’s private planes.

    “It’s a great honor for me to welcome you to the Star Diamond award,” Trump declares in the clip.

    Another Trump event with a Cinque ceremony was a birthday party the real estate mogul held for himself at one of his fading Atlantic City casinos in 2006. Trump and Cinque flashed smiles as they stood between guests, press and a bank of new Playboy slot machines. They were accompanied by actress Pamela Anderson.

    While the academy generally hands out five-star awards, at least two of Trump’s properties, the Scottish golf course and Mar-a-Lago, have been awarded six-star honors by the academy.

    In his email to Yahoo News, Langsam, the academy’s attorney, declined to reveal the criteria the organization uses to determine an institution has earned six rather than five stars. However, he stressed that the distinction is meaningful and employed all-caps lettering to emphasize this point.

    “There is a definite difference between FIVE STAR DIAMOND AWARD and SIX STAR DIAMOND AWARD, not the least of which is a star,” Langsam wrote. “The internal considerations and deliberations of the Academy are highly confidential and not ‘news.’ This is not the public’s nor your business.”

    The academy clearly keeps a tight lid on its inner workings.

    ““Joseph Cinque, President of The AAHS, has been attending Mr. Trump’s party for the past 16 years,” the article said. “It is somewhat of a new Years Eve tradition for him and of course, he has become dear friends with the Trump family.””

    Huh. And note that this is from an article put out by the AAHS in reference to the 2014 party, implying that Cinque has been attending this annual event since 1999. But Trump apparently doesn’t know him very well:


    In a conversation with Yahoo News on Thursday morning, Trump denied he had any involvement with the ratings group, which has bestowed numerous five- and six-star ratings on his properties.

    “I mean, I receive awards from different places sometimes, but I’m not involved in it. How am I involved in it?” said Trump.

    Trump indicated he didn’t know much about the academy’s board of trustees — on which he, two of his sons and multiple members of his organizations have served. He also claimed he doesn’t know Cinque well.

    “He may have set up a board of trustees. I don’t know. I don’t know that my sons are involved with that, actually,” Trump said, adding, “But he’s a very nice man. I don’t know him well. I don’t know him well, but I have found him over the years to be a very nice man.”

    Keep in mind that Trump was issuing these denials to Yahoo News back in May. And then, of course, he invited Cinque to the 2016 New Years party only to deny this relationship again in early 2017. So it looks like denying knowledge of Trump’s ties to Joey “No Socks” Cinque is going to be a fun new New Years tradition for the Trump family. And America.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 9, 2017, 7:55 pm

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