THE TRUMP CRIME FAMILY
Extended Trump Family Ties to Organized Crime
No previous United States president has had anything close to Donald J. Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks.
Investigative reporter Wayne Barrett wrote that Trump didn’t just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies in Manhattan in his early career. He likely met personally with “Fat Tony” Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn. There were witnesses to the meeting, one of whom kept detailed notes on all of Cohn’s contacts.
Cohn was a mob consigliere of Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, the most powerful Mafia group in New York, and Paul Castellano, head of the Gambino crime family.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Trump had partnered with men with organized crime ties in New York and Atlantic City. Later, he and his children would also strike deals in Brazil and Azerbaijan with partners who had shadowy backgrounds or unusual legal entanglements.
Thanks in part to the laxity of New Jersey gaming investigators, Trump has never had to address his dealings with mobsters and swindlers head-on.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Trump saw a opportunity to cash in there. Trump testified under oath in a 2007 deposition, “It’s ridiculous that I wouldn’t be investing in Russia. Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment.”
A conduit for Trump’s dealings with Russia’s newly minted, mobbed-up oligarchs was a company that marketed itself as a property developer, the Bayrock Group. Bayrock operated just two floors beneath Trump’s own office on the 26th floor in Trump Tower.
In a 2007 deposition, Trump testified that Bayrock would bring Russian investors to his Trump Tower office to discuss deals in Moscow.
One of Bayrock’s directors was career criminal Felix Sater who had ties to Russian and American organized crime groups. Before linking up with Bayrock and with Trump, Sater had worked as a mob informant for the U.S. government.
Sater had gone to prison for slashing another man’s face with the stem of a broken margarita glass. Later, he fled to Moscow to avoid criminal charges while boasting of his KGB and Kremlin contacts there.
Sater’s one-time business partner, Salvatore Lauria reported that Sater “was always hustling and scheming, and his contacts in Russia were the same kind of contacts he had in the United States. Lauria continued, “The difference was that in Russia his crooked contacts were links between Russian organized crime, the Russian military, the KGB, and operatives who played both ways, or sometimes three ways.”
In a series of interviews, a former Bayrock insider, Jody Kriss, claims that he eventually departed from Bayrock because he became convinced that the firm was actually a front for money laundering.
In April 2013, police burst into Unit 63A of Trump Tower and rounded up 29 suspects in two gambling rings. The operation, which prosecutors called “the world’s largest sports book,” was run out of condos in Trump Tower—including the entire fifty-first floor of the building. Unit 63A served as the headquarters for a “sophisticated money-laundering scheme” that moved an estimated $100 million out of the former Soviet Union, through shell companies in Cyprus, and into investments in the United States.
In addition, the Taj Mahal was fined $10 million in 2015—the highest penalty ever levied by the feds against a casino—and admitted to having “willfully violated” anti-money-laundering regulations for years.
Sins of the Father
“My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy.” –Donald Trump
According to his obituary, Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump was born in 1905, in New York, the son of German immigrants.
In 1927, Fred Trump started Elizabeth Trump & Son Co., the real estate company that would later become The Trump Organization. Fred Trump began his career constructing low-income apartments and row houses in Brooklyn and Queens, New York.
As with his son Donald, accusations of racism would dog real estate developer Fred Trump for much of his life.
According to an article in the New York Times, in September 1927, Fred Trump was arrested during a Ku Klux Klan rally in New York. Fred Trump (whose name and address was listed in the article) was one of seven men arrested “in a near-riot.” The men were also accused of assaulting a police officer and taken into custody.
Fred Trump’s backward views on race would reemerge in later years. In 1973, the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division filed suit against Trump and his company for refusing to rent apartments to black people. The suit followed an investigation by the Urban League which sent white and black testers to apartments owned by Trump. The testers found that white applicants were able to rent apartments, while blacks weren’t.
The Department of Justice concluded that “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity.” Trump was forced by the Justice Department to sign a consent degree, requiring him to advertise vacancies in minority papers and to list them with the Urban League.
One of Fred Trump’s former tenants was none other than folk music legend Woody Guthrie. Guthrie wrote a song that referred to Fred Trump as, “Old Man Trump” and added that Trump “drew a color line” by forcing minorities into segregated housing.
Ivana Trump Says Donald Kept a Copy of Hitler’s Speeches for Bedtime Reading
Like Germany’s dictator Adolf Hitler, real-estate mogul Donald Trump frequently uses racism, xenophobia, and other techniques of scapegoating to incite his coalition of angry voters.
According to a Vanity Fair article by Marie Brenner, Ivana Trump once told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that her husband, Donald Trump, kept a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bed.
“Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed … Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist,” Marie Brenner wrote.
When Brenner asked Trump about how he got a copy of Hitler’s speeches, “Trump hesitated” and then queried, “Who told you that.”
“I don’t remember,” Brenner replied.
Trump then said, “Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of Mein Kampf, and he’s a Jew.” (“I did give him a book about Hitler,” Marty Davis acknowledged. “But it was My New Order, Hitler’s speeches, not Mein Kampf. I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.”)
Later in the Vanity Fair article, Trump returned to the subject of Hitler’s speeches and said, “If, I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”
Ivana Trump also told a friend that her husband’s cousin, John Walter “clicks his heels and says, ‘Heil Hitler,” when visiting Trump’s office.
Investigation Reveals that Trump Made Millions from Drug Money Laundering in Panama
President Donald Trump made millions of dollars in profits by allowing Colombian drug cartels and other groups to launder money through a Trump-affiliated hotel in Panama, according to an investigation by the organization Global Witness.
In the early 2000s, a series of bankruptcies meant Donald Trump was shunned by most lenders. Struggling for credit, Trump started selling his name to high-end real estate projects. One of these developed Panama’s Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower.
In its report, Global Witness said that Colombian drug cartels purchased hotel units to hide the origins of money earned through drug trafficking, and that Trump was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the money laundering.
At the time Trump Ocean Club was announced in 2006 and launched in 2011, Panama was known as one of the best places in the world to launder money. Whole neighborhoods in Panama City were taken over by organized crime groups, and luxury developments were built to serve as money laundering vehicles.
Investing in luxury properties is a tried and trusted way for criminals to move tainted cash into the legitimate financial system, where they can spend it freely.
One key player at the Trump Ocean Club was David Eduardo Helmut Murcia Guzmán, who a U.S. court subsequently sentenced to nine years in prison for laundering millions in drug money. Another was Guzmán’s business associate, Ventura Nogueira, who brokered nearly a third of the pre-construction unit sales at the Trump Ocean Club. Nogueira’s sales brokerage was critical to ensuring the project’s lift-off and Trump’s ability to earn tens of millions of dollars.
At Trump Ocean Club, Trump received a percentage of the financing he helped secure. He also got a cut on every unit sold at the development. Trump and his family made millions more from management fees. The family even participated in marketing and project design. Broker Ventura Nogueira said that Trump’s daughter Ivanka met with him and project developer Roger Khafif at least ten times.
Nogueira told both NBC News and Reuters that many of those involved with the Trump Ocean Club were Russians and Eastern Europeans with “questionable backgrounds.” Nogueira added that he found out later that some were part of the Russian Mafia.
Among the shady buyers were:
- Louis Pargiolas, who pleaded guilty in 2009 in Miami to conspiracy to import cocaine.
- Stanislav Kavalenka, a Russian national charged in Canada for compelling women into prostitution.
- Arkady Vodovozov, convicted in Israel of kidnapping, according to Reuters.
Trump has relied on funds and favors from Russian oligarchs for many of his licensing deals, with money coming from criminal networks tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian government stands accused of interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Trump.