This week Trump unleashed another unhinged Twitter rant, this one targeting Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland. It was in response to Cummings’ outrage over the poor conditions in ICE detention facilities, including those imprisoning children as young as one year old.
Trump turned the dial right to “race” with snarky references to Cummings’ majority African-American district. He vented his small-minded rage in a series of pissy tweets with “No human being would want to live there“, “[Cumming’s district is] considered the Worst in the US” and “the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States.” What any of this petulant bleating has to do with Cummings’ effectiveness as a legislator or the substance of Cumming’s criticism of ICE is anyone’s guess.
Cummings’ district also includes the pricy Baltimore Waterfront, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the wealthy Locust Point. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, owns tens of millions of dollars of tenements in Baltimore which actually are rat and insect-infested. Trump’s chief-of-staff who me-too’d the attacks on Cummings was previously the congressman for South Carolina’s 5th District, which actually is one of the most impoverished in the country, with just a third of Baltimore’s household income (Baltimore is in the 61st percentile for household income). The red state cities of Memphis and Birmingham are officially, according to FBI stats, more dangerous than Baltimore. Facts rarely have a bearing on Trump’s shameless tantrums.
Let’s explore whose home is “rat-infested” and let’s use Trump Tower for comparison. Trump boasts that he personally vets the high-rollers who buy pads in his architectural answer to a bad boob job. Let’s see who Trump has actually selected to be his neighbors.
First up is, of course, Paul Manafort, a man who will likely spend the rest of his life in jail, if not in courtrooms too. Trump and Manafort have been joined at the hip since the late 1980s, when Trump hired Manafort’s and Roger Stone’s public relations firm to mount a racist attack on Native Americans, or more exactly on Indian casino gambling, which Trump tried to convince Congress was controlled by organized crime. On the contrary, Trump wouldn’t have even been in Atlantic City without help from mobsters like Gambino associate Robert LiButti and “Little Nicky” Scarfo‘s gang in Philly. They sold Trump (and he overpaid for) the land underneath his first AC casino. Trump paid millions of dollars in fines to the NJ Gaming Commission for regularly associating with them and for giving them suspicious “gifts” like the nine new luxury cars he gave to LiButti despite the fact that all AC casinos were forbidden to even let this mobster in the doors.
Manafort bought a 43rd floor Trump Tower apartment in 2006, which is currently being sold by the US Marshall’s Service.
Next up is Hillel “Helly” Nahmad, a Manhattan art dealer who, like Trump, is another lucky sperm born into wealth and privilege. But not satisfied with just being “stinking rich” he conspired with Russian oligarchs to operate an illegal gambling ring out of his Trump Tower apartment. Trump will of course deny that he had knowledge of Nahmad’s criminal past when he sold him the entire 51st floor of Trump Tower beginning in 1999. But it was hardly Nahmad’s first brush with the feds who were after him for stolen art, including a $25 million Modigliani stolen by the Nazis and acquired illegally by Nahmad’s family. It’s something that would have turned up in any $50 background investigation, if indeed Trump really cared about curating his Tower occupants.
Nahmad was convicted of operating illegal gambling and sentenced to prison. It’s curious why Russian oligarchs chose Trump’s building as a safe haven for their criminal activities, which included money laundering and the acquisition of several floors of overpriced condos. Curious indeed.
Vadim Trincher was Nahmad’s partner in the illegal gambling but he was much more than that. He was a soldier of Russian mob boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. He bought a 63rd floor Trump Tower apartment from a Russian oligarch and mobster, Oleg Boiko, to whom Trump personally sold it. So Trump allowed two criminals to own that pad.
It’s said that Trump owes his horrible, Versailles-on-angel-dust decorating taste to Trincher and his wife. Trincher was tried and convicted of racketeering along with 30 others. In other words, Trump Tower was home to a crime ring that operated, at best, right under Trump’s nose.
What’s a bunch of convicted criminals without a brutal psychopath? Enter Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, a man so nasty and so corrupt that he literally had to flee his presidency and his country of Haiti — and right into the welcoming arms of Donald Trump, who sold him Apartment 54K in Trump Tower in 1983. To hide the transaction, the sale was done through a Panamanian shell company. That’s actually illegal in NY State.
Is there a big time drug dealer in Trump Tower? Of course! Enter Joseph Weichselbaum. He was indicted for heading a Colombian cocaine smuggling and wholesaling ring in 1985. Not only did Trump sell him two Trump Tower apartments, he even contracted Weichselbaum, a twice-convicted racketeer and drug smuggler with a revoked pilots license, to operate the helicopter service Trump used to ferry high rollers to and from his casinos in Atlantic City.
He was subsequently arrested and convicted of a third charge. So in addition to the ordinary losers in Trump Tower it also had a genuine three-time loser.
Trump wasn’t the only straight up con man in Trump Tower. He leased out the 16th floor to Steven Hoffenberg while he was under indictment for stealing $462 million from Towers Financial customers. Up until Bernie Madoff it was the biggest Ponzi scam in Wall Street history.
Most buildings of Trump Tower’s pretentious stature have a morality clause, which is why Hoffenberg found himself homeless and needing new office space. But not Trump Tower. When it comes to money Trump doesn’t see race, religion or public scorn. Only green.
Hoffenberg is back in the news over reports that Trump’s “very good friend” Jeffrey Epstein was also in on that stock swindle.
Anatoly Golubchik and Michael Sall. Both were also convicted in the above-mentioned, Russian-backed illegal gambling operation. Golubchik’s 2013 indictment included this gem: “…nationwide criminal enterprise with strong ties to Russia and Ukraine run by Anatoly Golubchik and Trincher“. Run right from the 61st floor of Trump Tower.
Michael Sall literally wrote the book on predatory gambling. Both were convicted and sent to prison for five years. Both lost their lavish Trump Tower pads to government seizures.
Trincher and Golubchik were also running what Attorney Joshua Naftalis referred to as “one of the biggest bookmaking operations in the world.”. They also owned Monarch Air, Shuttleliner Cab of Ocala, Suncoast Air Cargo, and Skyway International in Jacob Gitman’s Kane Concourse in Miami. Three guesses what else they were into.
Tevfik Arif is a Kazach mobster. He was arrested and charged in Turkey in 2010 with running a prostitution ring aboard a $60 million dollar yacht which included underaged girls (are we starting to see a theme here?) The women knew who Arif’s dangerous partners were and refused to talk so Arif walked at trial. Arif was Trump’s partner in several ventures including the ill-fated Trump Soho along with twice-convicted Felix Sater, who’s up next.
That brings us to Felix Sater, Trump’s most visible connection to the Russian mob and Russian rubles. Sater: the guy that Trump testified under oath in a deposition “I wouldn’t recognize him if he was in the room right now”. Sater: the guy who Trump appointed as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump” and to whom he gave an office at Trump Organization just down the hall from his own. Sater: the guy to whom Trump gave a Trump Tower apartment and garage space for his seven Ferraris. Sater: the guy with whom Trump partnered on Trump Soho after his second federal conviction on racketeering charges. Sater: the guy Trump tapped to make Trump Tower Moscow happen. Sater: a guy whose name was strangely, and illegally, missing as a partner from Trump’s prospectus for Trump Soho. This is a guy that Trump wouldn’t recognize. Right.
Sater is a stone-cold criminal. He’s been convicted twice: once for stabbing a man in the neck with a broken margarita glass in a midtown bar and once for running a $40 million pump-and-dump stock scam. Sater’s father was Russian mob as well so he’s got a criminal pedigree. Sater and Michael Cohen were childhood friends. Cohen is next.
Michael Cohen is the second most well-known of Trump Tower denizens and Trump’s seedy associates. He’s the guy who said he would never flip on Mister Trump. But when Trump dissed him for the unpardonable offense of getting caught doing Trump’s dirty work (paying off a porn star not to talk about their affair during the election), Cohen spilled before Mueller, Congress, the media and anyone who would listen to him. Talk about rat infested.
Cohen’s past is well-documented and well-attested to by Cohen himself. Among it is that Cohen’s uncle owned the infamous El Caribe Country Club in Brooklyn. El Caribe was both the center of Russian organized crime in the US as well as a meeting place for Russian and homegrown gangsters like John Gotti and “Fat Tony” Salerno’s crew. He, like Sater, grew up around criminals and modeled his own behavior and scams on theirs.
Cohen had an office in Trump Tower and condos in both Trump World Tower and Trump Park Avenue. He’s currently serving time for income tax evasion, lying to Congress and bank fraud.
David Bogatin was one of Trump’s earliest contacts with the Russian Laundromat and with the Russian mob. In 1984, as a 38 year-old Russian émigré, he went shopping for apartments in NYC. He drove a cab for a living. He had arrived in America seven years earlier with just $3 in his pocket. And yet he bought five Trump Tower condos for $6 million with Trump personally attending the closing. Three years later, Bogatin fled the country after the FBI busted a massive gasoline tax scam operating out of (where else?) the backrooms of the El Caribe, where Cohen and Sater were cutting their teeth as mobsters. The fed seized all five Trump Tower units as being the fruit of money laundering. Bogatin was eventually returned to the US under an extradition treaty with Poland and sentenced to three to eight years.
This was Trump’s earliest detectable connection to Russian cash-for-condos money laundering which he’s done many, many times. Under NY law, Trump should have been charged with failing to report this funny-money transaction to Albany.
Robert Hopkins was another felon who Trump welcomed to Trump Tower in 1986. Hopkins was charged with running a numbers operation that took in a half-million a week. He was also charged with luring another gangster to his execution at an East Side restaurant. Trump personally oversaw Hopkins’ falsified filings and counted the $160,000 in cash he brought to the closing.
This story has much more to it and involves none other than Roy Cohn and Rudy Giuliani.
This is only a partial list of Trump Tower vermin that Trump personally curated for his own little “town” of Trump Tower. There are more, like the girlfriend of a Colombo mob enforcer who had a $6 million Trump Tower apartment and no discernible income or financial assets. And two crooked FIFA officials who later went to jail. And Medicare fraudster Sheldon Weinberg, who attempted to fake his own death but was eventually captured and sent to prison for 16 years. And Melvin Cooper, a convicted loan shark for both the Colombo and Gambino crime families, who owned two apartments in Trump Tower.
These are some of the upstanding citizens of Trump City. They’re the ones who hang out on Trump’s metaphorical stoop. Trump Tower is probably second only to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correction Center for housing criminals. Trump’s building is home to all sorts of rodents, including small, furry ones in his Trump Grill eatery on the ground floor!
Inside the inner circle, even closer to home, Trump’s closest advisors are also dropping like flies, all from engaging in the same financial misdeeds as their squirrel-toupee’d boss: siphoning off money that wasn’t theirs: Manafort, Flynn, Cohen, Gates, Sater, Stone. Trump attracts so many vermin because he’s a godfather of rats. Like attracts like. These are his people. Trump rose to the position we were warned about by Hyman Roth, the fictional depiction of gangster Meyer Lansky, in Godfather 2:
What I wouldn’t give for twenty more years! Here we are, protected, free to make our profits without Kefauver, the goddamn Justice Department and the F.B.I. ninety miles away, in partnership with a friendly government. Ninety miles! It’s nothing! Just one small step, looking for a man who wants to be President of the United States, and having the cash to make it possible. Michael, we’re bigger than U.S. Steel.
For Trump to criticize Elijah Cumming’s district of Baltimore as being “rat-infested” is laughably hypocritical. For one, Cummings didn’t personally vet every resident of his district nor did he personally rake in tens of millions of dollars by catering to mobsters, con men, drug dealers, banana republic psychopaths and killers nor did he surround himself with advisors engaged in criminal activities. Trump did. The best thing one could say about Trump, and that’s if one completely ignores his 30+ year history of run-ins with the law, is that he’s a man of exceedingly poor judgment. But Occam’s Razor says otherwise.
While Obama was president Trump heckled him with these racist tweets. What’s the @realDonaldTrump doing about Baltimore now that he’s president?
According to 2015 Donald Trump, these thugs are Trump’s responsibility now. Show us how it’s done, Cadet Bonespurs. Show us how fast you’re going to fix it.
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