The Mueller investigation is looking into Trump’s finances for obvious reasons:
This weekend, the New York Times and the Washington Post published detailed investigations into the financial history Mueller is investigating. While carefully couching the findings within the bounds of the facts they were able to prove based on publicly available data, these reports made it perfectly clear that Trump’s business empire is not only dirty, but dirty in a way that leads directly into the national-security threat that produced Mueller’s investigation in the first place.
The Post account zeroes in on a peculiar turn in the Trump Organization’s financial structure. Trump has styled himself “the king of debt” and throughout his career touted the virtues of borrowing as the foundation of his business philosophy. (Relying on debt is not uncommon among real-estate developers.) But the Post reveals that Trump’s investing strategy has taken a sharp U-turn in the last decade, when his organization suddenly began buying properties with straight cash.
rump’s proffered explanation is that the cash binge simply reflects his extraordinary success and innate business genius. “He had incredible cash flow and built incredible wealth,” Eric Trump explained. “He didn’t need to think about borrowing for every transaction. We invested in ourselves.” Yet the Post’s reporting makes this account appear dubious. In 2014, Trump spent $80 million to buy a pair of golf courses in Scotland and Ireland, and had to spend more than twice as much to keep them running.
A phrase that does not appear in the Post’s article, because the reporters cannot prove it, is “money laundering.” But money laundering is the suspicion hovering over all these curious purchases, and the reason the Post is devoting so many investigative resources to the subject in the first place. “This is all about money laundering,” Steve Bannon told Michael Wolff. “[Mueller’s] path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr. and Jared Kushner … It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit.”
Money laundering would be criminal activity. If you are involved in criminal activity, you are subject to blackmail. And if the criminals who can blackmail you have connections to a foreign government — say, Russia — then that government has blackmail leverage. Ten years ago, Donald Trump Jr. casually said, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets.” And as recently as 2014, Eric Trump told a reporter, “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia,” which is quite different than his current explanation that the Trump Organization does not require outside funding at all.
This is…a pretty straightforward conclusion. But don’t worry, there’s a totally innocent explanation:
Yes, the Trump Organization suddenly buying random, high-maintenance properties in cash when they could no longer do business with American banks and started getting financing from shady Eastern European sources seems totally innocent. It raises no questions, casts no shadows, there is not a troubling cloud in the sky. This is doubly true given that Trump refuses to release his tax returns.
When the Times, partnering with Steve Bannon, tried to make a major scandal out an unexceptionable urnamium deal that involved not only no misconduct but no demonstrated conduct by Hillary Clinton, I’m sure Lipton was equally critical of the jump to conclusions!