Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Is America ready for a "mobbed-up" president?

David Cay Johnston, writing in Politico, reports that "I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime."

AZBlueMeanie reports on Johnson's research and other corroborative sources.

Here are opening snippets from Johnston's report.

In his signature book, The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump boasted that when he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City, he persuaded the state attorney general to limit the investigation of his background to six months. Most potential owners were scrutinized for more than a year. Trump argued that he was “clean as a whistle”—young enough that he hadn’t had time to get into any sort of trouble. He got the sped-up background check, and eventually got the casino license.

But Trump was not clean as a whistle. Beginning three years earlier, he’d hired mobbed-up firms to erect Trump Tower and his Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan, including buying ostensibly overpriced concrete from a company controlled by mafia chieftains Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Paul Castellano. That story eventually came out in a federal investigation, which also concluded that in a construction industry saturated with mob influence, the Trump Plaza apartment building most likely benefited from connections to racketeering. Trump also failed to disclose that he was under investigation by a grand jury directed by the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, who wanted to learn how Trump obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan.

Why did Trump get his casino license anyway? Why didn’t investigators look any harder? And how deep did his connections to criminals really go?

These questions ate at me as I wrote about Atlantic City for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and then went more deeply into the issues in a book, Temples of Chance: How America Inc. Bought Out Murder Inc. to Win Control of the Casino Business. In all, I’ve covered Donald Trump off and on for 27 years, and in that time I’ve encountered multiple threads linking Trump to organized crime. Some of Trump’s unsavory connections have been followed by investigators and substantiated in court; some haven’t. And some of those links have continued until recent years, though when confronted with evidence of such associations, Trump has often claimed a faulty memory. In an April 27 phone call to respond to my questions for this story, Trump told me he did not recall many of the events recounted in this article and they “were a long time ago.” He also said that I had “sometimes been fair, sometimes not” in writing about him, adding “if I don’t like what you write, I’ll sue you.”

Read the rest of Johnston's report here or in AZBlueMeanie's post.

David Cay Johnston won a Pulitzer Prize for his New York Times reporting on the American tax system. Since 2009 he has taught the business, property and tax law of the ancient world at Syracuse University’s law and graduate business schools.

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Johnston was not the only person to "out" reports of Trump's mob association. Back in February, Sen. Ted Cruz noted Trump's reported mob connections on Meet the Press. Here is some of the report from PolitiFact.

Donald Trump "seems terrified to release his taxes" because they may reveal his true net worth, his donations to liberal causes, or something even seedier, Sen. Ted Cruz suggested on Meet the Press.

"There have been multiple media reports about Donald's business dealings with the mob, with the mafia," Cruz said Feb. 28. "Maybe his taxes show those business dealings are a lot more extensive than has been reported."

Pressed by host Chuck Todd to back up his claim, Cruz cited reports by ABC and CNN. A Cruz spokesman forwarded us several other media reports detailing the real estate developer’s alleged ties to organized crime. The Trump campaign did not get back to us.

Is Cruz right that the Donald has worked with a few Dons in his career?

...

Here's one example cited by PolitiFact.

And there’s Felix Sater, "a twice-convicted Russian émigré who served prison time and had documented mafia connections" and the subject of the ABC story Cruz referenced.

Sater pleaded guilty to a charge of money laundering in 1998 and was indicted again in 2000 for taking part in a $40 million stock scheme involving four Mafia families, according to the New York Times report.

From 2003 to 2007, Sater traveled the country promoting projects for Trump, and his company was a partner in the Trump SoHo hotel. Trump told the Times he "never knew that."

Three years later, Sater returned to the Trump Organization and had business cards that described him as Trump’s "senior advisor," the AP reported. Trump told the AP that he’s "not familiar" with Sater.

Our ruling

Cruz said, "There have been multiple media reports about Donald's business dealings with the mob, with the mafia."

While it’s important to note that these connections were not atypical in the real estate and casino businesses in the 1980s, Cruz’s statement is accurate. Media reports have linked Trump to mafia bosses and mob-connected business associates for decades.

We rate the claim True.

"Why’d Donald do it? Because he saw these mob guys as pathways to money, and Donald is all about money” — Wayne Barrett, Trump biographer

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