The Feds got Al Capone for income tax evasion. Capone spent enormous amounts of money and at trial he couldn’t explain how he got it. Whatever works.
Adam Davidson, in the March 13 New Yorker article, “Donald Trump’s Worst Deal“, raises the intriguing prospect that Trump may have violated The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Rachel Maddow has a show explaining the details. Check out Davidson’s article – the nuances can’t be replicated in a summary. However, the gist is as follows. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (F.C.P.A.) forbids an American company from benefiting from the corruption of a business partner if it could have discovered the partner’s corruption. In May 2012, Trump partnered in a building project in Baku, Azerbaijan, with a company, Baku XXI Century, tied to Azerbaijan Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov. The Mammadovs were publicly fingered for being corrupt – an article in Foreign Policy titled “The Corleones of the Caspian” suggested Ziya made his fortune through his ministry post. A career official with a $12000 a year salary, Mammadov was a billionaire. Moreover, as described by Davidson, the building project, for a luxury tower and condominiums, had no reasonable prospects of being a sound business deal. It was, in fact, reasonably transparent that the tower was built for the Mammadov company to launder funds through a “legitimate” business. Trump lent his name to the project for a multi-million dollar licensing fee and additional funds under a management contract. At this time, Mammadov was also involved with an Iranian family, the Darvishis, who appear to be linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. The Darvishis were involved in contracts with Mammadov under which as a company called Azarpassillo, they built Azerbaijan infrastructure at prices triple that once offered by American construction company Bechtel and rejected by Mammadov. For every kilometer of highway they built, they received an average of 18 million dollars, rather than the 6 million dollar per kilometer price cited by Bechtel.
Here’s the apparent take away. Mammadov, as Azerbaijan Transportation Minister, funneled Azerbaijan oil money to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard though the infrastructure contracts, avoiding American and other Western sanctions and personally profiting from the transactions. Mammadov then directed some of his personal profit into Baku construction projects, including the projected Trump Tower. Trump, by contracting with the Mammadov family, received corrupt funds through his licensing and management fees. Trump, at the time, was obligated to do due diligence to ensure that the Mammadov company was not corrupt. Trump either did not do the due diligence or ignored the results. The circumstances of the contracts, alone, should have given rise to suspicion. As Davidson writes, “given the Trump Organization’s track record, it seems reasonable to ask whether one of the things it was selling to foreign partners was a willingness to ignore signs of corruption.” In his summary, Davidson notes: “The best way to determine if a crime was committed in the Baku deal would be a federal investigation, which could use the power of subpoena and international legal tools to obtain access to the contracts, the due diligence, internal e-mails and financial documents. The Department of Justice routinely sends investigators to other countries to pursue possible F.C.P.A. and sanctions violations.”
Let’s recap grounds for impeaching Mr. Trump:
Trump was guilty of Treason when he colluded with Putin to undermine the 2016 election. Trump virtually bragged of knowing about the Russian hacking when he publicly asked Russia to released Clinton’s hacked emails. Between Flynn, Sessions, and his other aides, there is so much smoke that we should get spontaneous combustion.
Trump is violating the emoluments clause. His recent receipt of patents from China worth millions and his commingled business deals abroad are just the entanglements the framers envisioned and sought to prevent.
Based on Davidson’s report, an investigation would show that Trump violated The F.C.P.A. Other businessmen who violated that act are currently in jail. Given Trump’s contempt for legal process and any restrictions on his activities, investigation is likely to disclose a number of violations. Continued digging by the press alone should bring more examples to light.
Trump has violated his oath of office to uphold the Constitution in declaring the press “the enemy of the people” and in deliberately crafting legislation targeting a religion in violation of the First Amendment.
Trump further committed a serious violation of his authority in falsely, publicly, and without investigation, accusing his predecessor President Obama of having bugged his telephone. In characterizing Obama as “bad” or “sick”, Trump insinuated that Obama engaged in illegal and nefarious activities, a misuse by Trump of his office and Presidential authority.
Every day brings further proof of that this administration is intellectually bankrupt. Today, Scott Pruitt again claimed there was no proof of global warming. The proposed Trumpcare bill can not be funded within the ideological restrictions imposed by the Right. The litany of Trump’s lies are wearing thin. Trump, of course, knows this and is crafting further machinations to distract attention and consolidate power. In short, we have a race against time. The guardians of justice got to Mr. Nixon. Then again, Adolf Hitler, in his time, got the guardians.