Tag Archives: money laundering

‘Follow the (Russian) money’ – it’s always about the money

There were two key paragraphs in the Washington Post’s report from last Friday. Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with the case say:

Although the case began quietly last July as an effort to determine whether any Trump associates coordinated with Russian operatives to meddle in the presidential election campaign, the investigative work now being done by the FBI also includes determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president. The people familiar with the matter said the probe has sharpened into something more fraught for the White House, the FBI and the Justice Department — particularly because of the public steps investigators know they now need to take, the people said.

And:

While there has been a loud public debate in recent days over the question of whether the president might have attempted to obstruct justice in his private dealings with Comey, whom Trump fired last week, people familiar with the matter said investigators on the case are more focused on Russian influence operations and possible financial crimes.

As I said, “This would explain passing references to the Treasury Department in recent reporting. This likely involves the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN.”

The Treasury Department and FinCEN are now in the news this week. CNN reports, Warner: Treasury has not fully responded to Senate Intel requests:

Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Tuesday that the Treasury Department has not fully complied with his committee’s requests for documents relevant to its probe into Russian meddling in the US election.

Likewise, Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter on Tuesday to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requesting records of Trump businesses and any connections to Russia by June 2.

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Wapo: Russia probe identifies a person of interest inside the White House

It is a classic urban legend horror scenario: A young woman who is home alone. Often she is a baby sitter. She gets a creepy phone call asking, “Have you checked the kids?” She calls the police. They trace the call and they tell her, “The calls are coming from inside the house.”

The Washington Post reports that the law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current official working inside the White House as a significant person of interest. Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with the case say:

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

C’mon, cut to the chase.  There are only a small number of suspects close advisors who have admitted publicly to having had contacts with the Russians: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Technically, only one of them actually works inside the White House, the only one who can be said to be “close to” Donald Trump, that is “The Kush.” Trump entrusts him with everything. On January 9, 2017, Kushner was named Senior Advisor to the President.

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Mike Pence’s ‘Sergeant Schultz defense’ does not hold up to scrutiny

After the “bombshell” reporting this week about what the Trump administration knew about Gen. Michael Flynn and when they knew it, Trump transition chairman Vice President Pence has his aids anonymously leaking to the press the Sergeant Schultz defense — “I know nothing!” — in an effort to separate himself from the Trump scandals (and to preserve his status as next in line of presidential succession).

We are now all supposed to believe that Trump transition chairman Vice President Pence, who was named to that post because he was supposedly the adult in the room who could herd the crazy cats  Trump brought with him to Washington, was entirely kept out of the information loop about Gen. Michael Flynn. We are all supposed to believe that Trump transition team lawyers never notified their client, transition chairman Vice President Pence, of information they received about Flynn. Riiight.

We are aslo supposed to believe that Mike Pence never read a newspaper article or watched a television news report about Michael Flynn, which was widely reported in the news at the time.

NBC News reports, VP Mike Pence Was Never Informed About Flynn: Source:

Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s alleged wrongdoing, according to a source close to the administration, who cited a potential “pattern” of not informing the vice president and calling it “malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable.”

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Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation, and more

I picked a bad time to take a vacation to visit family. Shit hit the fan this week in Washington.

On Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and destroyed the Trump administration’s false narrative about its handling of Gen. Michael Flynn lying about his foreign contacts. The Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin has a good summary of the testimony. Sally Yates just threw the White House under the bus.

The Trump administration’s response for ignoring Yates’ warnings that Flynn was lying and not firing him for 18 days only after the Washington Post reported the story? “Baghdad Sean” Spicer claimed that Yates was a Democratic partisan and “painted her as essentially a double agent.” Sean Spicer says Sally Yates was a ‘strong supporter’ of Hillary Clinton. His evidence: Rumors. “The White House dismissed warnings about Michael Flynn from both President Obama and Yates, the former acting attorney general, because they were viewed as opponents with axes to grind.”

This no doubt is the same attitude that led the Trump administration’s disregard for President Obama’s personal warning to Donald Trump not to hire Gen. Michael Flynn. The “partisanship” in handling Gen. Flynn was a one-way street on the part of Team Trump, ignoring genuine concerns for U.S. national security.

CNN reports that federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election. CNN exclusive: Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI’s Russia investigation:

The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.

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Follow the (Russian) money into the Trump business empire

Nancy Le Turneau at the Political Animal blog ties together several threads to new reporting over the weekend about Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump. Did Vladimir Putin Buy Himself a U.S. President?

During the 2016 presidential election, we often heard that Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy several times. As the Washington Post reported, he did so a total of six times.

Trump’s Taj Mahal opened in April 1990 in Atlantic City, but six months later, “defaulted on interest payments to bondholders as his finances went into a tailspin,” The Washington Post’s Robert O’Harrow found. In July 1991, Trump’s Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy. He could not keep up with debts on two other Atlantic City casinos, and those two properties declared bankruptcy in 1992. A fourth property, the Plaza Hotel in New York, declared bankruptcy in 1992 after amassing debt.

PolitiFact uncovered two more bankruptcies filed after 1992, totaling six. Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2004, after accruing about $1.8 billion in debt. Trump Entertainment Resorts also declared bankruptcy in 2009, after being hit hard during the 2008 recession.

Following that string of bankruptcies in the 1990’s, U.S. banks pretty much blackballed the Trump organization, but he rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. That is pretty much what Donald Trump, Jr. affirmed in 2008.

“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.”

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Follow the Money: The Trump swamp overflows

I posted the other day, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: Michael Flynn violated the law. The committee held another press conference today regarding new information provided by the Department of Defense, and it’s not looking good for ol’ Mikey. “Lock him up!”

The Huffington Post reports Pentagon Warned Michael Flynn Against Accepting Foreign Money In 2014; He Didn’t Listen:

President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, failed to heed warnings from the Pentagon about accepting foreign funds for a trip to Russia in 2015, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee announced Thursday.

The Department of Defense has sent classified documents to committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), said ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) at a news conference on Thursday. One of them, which is being prepared for public release, is a letter from the Defense Intelligence Agency to Flynn.

“This letter explicitly warned General Flynn, as he entered retirement, that the Constitution prohibited him from accepting any foreign government payments without advance permission,” Cummings said. “DIA did not locate any records of Lieutenant General Flynn seeking permission or approval for the receipt of money from a foreign source.”

But Flynn did accept the funds from Kremlin-backed news agency RT and failed to disclose them when he applied for a security clearance last year, Cummings and Chaffetz said Tuesday. He may have broken federal law.

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