Money-Launderer-In-Chief? Connecting the Dots. . .

Two separate Trump-Russia storylines merge. One involves a bank, which has loaned more than a billion dollars to Donald Trump, getting busted for Russian money laundering. The other involved Trump selling a mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million. On the campaign trail, Trump at one point claimed it was his only dealing with Russia, but that’s not accurate.

The same year he sold the mansion, his son, Donald Trump Jr., bragged that the Russians were key investors in the Trump Organization’s assets.  “And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York,”  Trump Jr. said in the interview.  “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.  There’s indeed a lot of money coming for new-builds and resale reflecting a trend in the Russian economy and, of course, the weak dollar versus the ruble.”

Actually. . . no, the money is coming in from Russian oligarchs who are funneling money out of their country with the assistance of Donald Trump who has a trove of high-end properties and can easily absorb the seemingly outrageous transactions we have observed by and between the Trump organization and Russian oligarchs. . . including Vladimir Putin.

Now it turns out that the bank dealings and the property transactions are two halves of the same story.

As the story goes, Deutsche Bank has mysteriously loaned more than a billion dollars to Donald Trump and his business partners over the past few years, at a time when most other banks viewed him as too big a risk. Later, Deutsche Bank was busted (and fined billions) for laundering Russian money for clients in places like New York, where Trump lived, raising the question of whether its willingness to float loans to Trump was really just a cover for Russia to funnel money to him.

But as it turns out, Deutsche Bank was laundering the money through Bank of Cyprus. The two most prominent owners of Bank of Cyprus? One is Donald Trump’s associate Dmitry Rybolovlev.  The other is Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross.

In sum:  Russia was laundering money into Deutsche Bank, through another bank owned by two Donald Trump associates, at the same time it just happened to be inexplicably loaning large sums of money to Trump even though he was a poor investment risk.  Trump then rewarded one of the go-between bank’s owners by making him the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

The stories merge:  Trump sells properties to Russians for exceedingly more than they are worth raising red flags with the IRS but not obviously illegal.  For insurance, the Russians formed that dossier to blackmail Trump into paying up when the Reds need their cash.   In return, Trump will try to take a muscular stance against the forthcoming Russian aggression by dismantling the dossier and posturing for the need for a more muscular military.  (Trump just signaled the need for more nukes). The problem with the dossier leak was that nobody in the press had signaled the quid-pro-quo that lead to its revelation.  Standing alone, it’s meaningless.

How else do you get your money back from a straw-man with whom you entrusted billions of dollars laundered through a third-party?  The question raised is whether money-laundering is a high-crime in which impeachment can be leveled.  I believe that as long as President Trump continues to remain the titular head of the Trump organization, his profiteering from money laundering for highly placed foreign individuals (including Russian oligarchs tied to Vladimir Putin and his family) remains. . . treasonous.

Sean Erenstoft is a partner in Hard Corp. Media and civil rights advocate.  He has authored a book L.A. Cutthroats and runs a veterans organization called LA-Vets.

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