Given Trump’s disclaimers of contacts with the Russians, each day brings a surprise. Today Donald Jr. admitted to meeting in June 2016, along with Manafort and Kushner, with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Clinton. Watch as they try to spin this one.
But equally, or perhaps more, damning are the reports concerning Trump’s proximity to the US and Russian mob. See, for example, Trump, Collusion, Global Oligarchs, and the Mob. Here’s an article from September 14, 2016 worth considering, from Mother Jones, by David Corn and Hannah Levintova, “How Did an Alleged Russian Mobster End Up on Trump’s Red Carpet?” The gist of that story: “On April 16, 2013, federal agents burst into a swanky apartment at Trump Tower in New York City as part of a larger raid that rounded up 29 suspected members of two global gambling rings with operations allegedly overseen by a supposed Russian mob boss named Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. The Russian was not nabbed by US law enforcement. Since being indicted in the United States a decade earlier for allegedly rigging an ice skating competition at the 2002 Olympics, he had been living in Russia, beyond the reach of Western authorities. And this new gambling indictment did not appear to inconvenience Tokhtakhounov. Seven months after the bust, he was a VIP attendee at Donald Trump’s Miss Universe 2013 contest held in Moscow. In fact, Tokhtakhounov hit the red carpet within minutes of Trump.”
“The operations of the gambling scheme were handled by two other men: Vadim Trincher and Anatoly Golubchik. The indictment alleged that they and others ran ‘an international gambling business that catered to oligarchs residing in the former Soviet Union and throughout the world,’ used ‘threats of violence to obtain unpaid gambling debts,’ and ’employed a sophisticated money laundering scheme to move tens of millions of dollars…from the former Soviet Union through shell companies in Cyprus into various investments and other shell companies in the United States.’ According to the US attorney, their enterprise ‘booked sports bets that reached into the millions of dollars’ and laundered approximately $100 million.
Trincher, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, was a championship professional poker player who had purchased a Trump Tower apartment located directly below an apartment owned by Donald Trump. In 2009, Trincher had paid $5 million for the posh pad. Two years later, he and his wife had reportedly hoped to hold a fundraiser in the apartment for Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, but they had to cancel the event because of the presence of mold caused by a water leak. During one court hearing, the US attorney’s office said that Trincher, then 52 years old, directed much of the racketeering enterprise from this Trump Tower apartment.”
Corn and Levintova’s takeaway? “Trump has cited the 2013 Miss Universe contest as proof he possesses serious foreign policy experience. In May, he told Fox News, ‘I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, which was a big, big incredible event.’ And it provided the reality television mogul the opportunity to hobnob with a Putin crony who is now under US sanctions, various oligarchs who are chums with the Russian leader, and an alleged Russian mafioso accused by the US government of protecting a global criminal enterprise that operated directly below one of Trump’s own apartments in Trump Tower. What a small world.”
My take away? If you spend your life flocking with ducks, it is remotely possible you are a swan or a goose. But the best probability? You are a duck.