I have long thought that the coup de grace in this sad episode of American history is going to have something to do with the fact that the president* couldn't get a loan on this side of the Atlantic and, therefore, developed a financial relationship with various Russian oligarchs whose money may have not been entirely clean. I think there may be a rank money trail leading straight to our current problems and to our current dysfunctional administration.
The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday had a piquant bit of business that seems to have come out of the underbrush of that very trail.
Alexander Shnaider, a Russian-Canadian developer who built the 65-story Trump International Hotel and Tower, put money into the project after receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from a separate asset sale that involved the Russian bank, whose full name is Vnesheconombank. Mr. Shnaider sold his company's share in a Ukrainian steelmaker for about $850 million in 2010, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. According to two people with knowledge of the deal, the buyer, which hasn't been identified publicly, was an entity acting for the Russian government. VEB initiated the purchase and provided the money, these people say. U.S. investigators are looking into any ties between Russian financial institutions, Mr. Trump and anyone in his orbit, according to a person familiar with the probe. As part of the investigation, they're examining interactions between Mr. Trump, his associates and VEB, which is now subject to U.S. sanctions, said another person familiar with the matter. The Toronto deal adds a new element to the list of known connections between Mr. Trump's associates and Russia.
This reminds me of nothing more than it reminds me of then-Senator John Kerry's pursuit of BCCI, a vastly corrupt bank that, in the 1980s, positioned itself as laundromat and safety-deposit box for just about every international criminal who was able to sign a deposit slip.
Nobody in Washington wanted to go near this scandal. In the first place, there were quite a few people in Washington, in and out of government, who were tied into BCCI, including the extended Bush family through that family's connections within the Texas plutocracy. In the second place, there were quite a few people in Washington, mostly inside the government, who were tied in with the bad actors who were using BCCI to wash their money. With the help of a bulldog investigator named Jack Blum, Kerry relentlessly chased down every angle of BCCI's operations, which involved the financial infrastructure of everything from Iran-Contra to the regime of Saddam Hussein.
That investigation was conducted in the face of massive political resistance, and it involved arrangements far more complicated than those involved in the president*'s business dealings. And it got done. This kind of thing is only complicated if you want it to be.
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