Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, May 6th, 2018.


Trump’s Mystery Money

Trump Maladministration

Yesterday the Washington Post published a long examination of Trump’s real estate business, pointing out that suddenly in 2006 he switched from being the “king of debt” to paying cash.

The question is, where did that cash come from? It’s a secret.

Trump’s vast outlay of cash, tracked through public records and totaled publicly here for the first time, provides a new window into the president’s private company, which discloses few details about its finances.

It shows that Trump had access to far more cash than previously known, despite his string of commercial bankruptcies and the Great Recession’s hammering of the real estate industry.

Why did the “King of Debt,” as he has called himself in interviews, turn away from that strategy, defying the real estate wisdom that it’s unwise to risk so much of one’s own money in a few projects?

And how did Trump — who had money tied up in golf courses and buildings — raise enough liquid assets to go on this cash buying spree?

It’s well known that Trump was way over-leveraged at one point, deeply in debt and no longer able to get credit from U.S. banks. But suddenly in 2006 he was flush with cash, and the origins of that cash cannot be accounted for by the sale of properties or other assets. It was just, suddenly, there. And it continued to be there through the 2008 financial crisis when money was just not anywhere for awhile.

The WaPo article does not speculate where the money came from. Others, however, have.

Josh Marshall points out (premium content):

Note that year, 2006. That’s the same year when Michael Cohen came to work for the Trump Organization and, as I’ve noted many times, Cohen was brought into the Trump Organization as a conduit for money from Russia and Ukraine. To be clear, I’m not saying all this cash came from or through Michael Cohen. But there’s good reason to think these two things are related, that the shift toward cash purchases coincided with Trump’s increasingly heavy reliance on post-Soviet cash and that Cohen was a important part of that transition.

Josh also remembered an interview in which James Dodson described a 2014 outing at the Trump golf course in Charlotte.

“Trump was strutting up and down, talking to his new members about how they were part of the greatest club in North Carolina,” Dodson says. “And when I first met him, I asked him how he was — you know, this is the journalist in me — I said, ‘What are you using to pay for these courses?’ And he just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million.”

$100 million.

“So when I got in the cart with Eric,” Dodson says, “as we were setting off, I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’ And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’ Now that was [a little more than] three years ago, so it was pretty interesting.”

Eric Trump has since denied he said that, of course. But there’s also this, from a WaPo article published in 2016:

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Yesterday the New York Times published a long examination of Cohen’s businesses that pretty much spells out that Cohen is in the pocket of somebody in Russia and the Ukraine, and the Russian mob also, without actually saying so. Here is just a bit:

He has spent much of his personal and professional life with immigrants from Russia and Ukraine. His father-in-law, who helped establish him in the taxi business, was born in Ukraine, as was one of Mr. Cohen’s partners in that industry. Another partner was Russian. And Mr. Cohen used his connections in the region when scouting business opportunities for Mr. Trump in former Soviet republics.

More recently, Mr. Cohen and his father-in-law lent more than $25 million to a Ukrainian businessman who has a checkered financial record and a history of defaulting on loans. And Mr. Cohen long held a small stake in his uncle’s catering hall, which was frequented by Russian and Italian mobsters.

In addition to his legal and taxi businesses, Mr. Cohen has had a seemingly charmed touch as a real estate investor. On one day in 2014, he sold four buildings in Manhattan for $32 million, entirely in cash. That was nearly three times what he paid for them no more than three years earlier.

“This is the type of person you’d see most bankers steer clear of,” said Ben Berzin, a retired executive vice president and senior credit officer at PNC Bank who clashed with Mr. Trump in the early 1990s over loans to the future president’s troubled Atlantic City casinos. The speed with which Mr. Cohen successfully flipped real estate stands out, Mr. Berzin said. “You have to ask what’s going on.”

Yes, you have to ask.

Another bit of recent news is that a buddy of Trump’s named Tom Barrack was interviewed by Mueller’s team awhile back. Barrack  Barrack was instrumental in bringing Paul Manafort and Rick Gates into the Trump campaign. Both Manafort and Gates are better known for their ties to Russia than for their political accomplishments.

No collusion, my ass.

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