By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
There are a number of things about Donald Trump that I find beyond troubling. The tipping point for me was when Trump started claiming he was ‘flexible’, just like Obama was with Vladimir Putin. But that is not the only thing that has given me pause during this nomination process. I have a lot of unanswered questions.
According to the Chicago Tribune, George Soros bailed out Trump Tower in Chicago in 2004. In fact, in 2009, Trump spent Christmas Eve with the old spider. Conservatives railed against Barack Obama for his ties to George Soros as they should have… but where is the same circumspection when it comes to Donald Trump? He’s a nationalist and a populist and his followers seem utterly deaf, dumb and blind to his history and connections.
From Conservative Review:
Donald Trump has lined up three New York hedge funds, including money from billionaire George Soros, to invest $160 million in his Chicago skyscraper, a key piece in perhaps the largest construction financing in the city’s history, according to real estate sources and public documents.
Soros bailed Trump out because Trump could not front his own money to build the skyscraper. He took what is known as a mezzanine loan from Soros… this kind of loan carries outrageous interest that helps the developer on the front end of the financing and often results in a stake in the building for the lender. This is not the first endeavor with Soros either. Both were named in a lawsuit in New York in the sale of the GM Building.
Did you know that in 2011, Trump went to a Tea Party rally and told patriots to lay off George Soros? I kid you not. He said Soros had enough problems. The man has nowhere near enough as far as I’m concerned.
Then there are Trump’s Russian mob connections. Meet Felix Sater. This is a man that Trump is now denying he knows at all. He was a senior business adviser in 2010 to Trump and has been previously convicted in a major Mafia-linked stock fraud scheme, according to Associated Press interviews and a review of court records.
Trump had worked with Felix Sater previously during the man’s stint as an executive at Bayrock Group LLC, a real estate development firm that partnered with Trump on numerous projects after renting office space from the Trump Organization. But Sater’s past was not widely known at the time because he was working as a government cooperator on mob cases and the judge overseeing Sater’s own case kept the proceedings secret. After Sater’s criminal history and past ties to organized crime came to light in 2007, Trump distanced himself from Sater.
Less than three years later, however, Trump tapped Sater for a business development role that came with the title of senior adviser to Donald Trump. Sater received Trump Organization business cards and was given an office within the Trump Organization’s headquarters, on the same floor as Trump’s own.
Trump said during an AP interview on Wednesday that he recalled only bare details of Sater.
“Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it,” Trump said, referring questions about Sater to his staff. “I’m not that familiar with him.”
According to Trump lawyer Alan Garten, Sater’s role was to prospect for high-end real estate deals for the Trump Organization. The arrangement lasted six months, Garten said.
The revelation about Sater’s role is significant because of its timing and directness, and marks the first time the Trump Organization has acknowledged publicly that Sater worked for Trump after the disclosures of Sater’s criminal background. Trump has said that among his secrets of success is that he surrounds himself with the “best and most serious people” and with “people you can trust.”
Sater never had an employment agreement or formal contract with the Trump Organization and did not close any deals for Trump, Garten said.
“He was trying to restart his life,” Garten said. “I believe he was regretful of things that happened in the past.”
Trump did not know the details of Sater’s cooperation with the government when Sater came in-house in 2010, Garten said. But Garten noted that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch praised Sater’s cooperation with the federal government, when senators asked about him during her confirmation hearings early this year. She said Sater cooperated against his Mafia stock fraud co-defendants and assisted the government on unspecified national security matters.
“If Mr. Sater was good enough for the government to work with, I see no reason why he wasn’t good enough for Mr. Trump,” Garten said.
He pleaded guilty in 1998 to one count of racketeering for his role in a $40 million stock fraud scheme involving the prominent Genovese and Bonanno crime families, according to court records. Prosecutors called the operation a pump-and-dump scheme, in which insiders manipulate the price of obscure stocks and then sell them to hapless investors at inflated prices. Five years earlier, a New York State court had sentenced Sater to more than a year in prison for stabbing a man in the face with a broken margarita glass.
Sater declined to discuss his work with Trump.
“Obviously a Donald-and-the-bad-guy piece is not interesting for me to participate in,” Sater wrote in an email to AP. His lawyer, Robert Wolf, said information about Sater in public records and lawsuits obtained by the AP was defamatory. He credited Sater’s stint as a government cooperator with potentially saving American military lives, although he did not provide details. Wolf told the AP to write about Sater’s past “at your own risk” but did not cite specific concerns.
After his 1998 racketeering conviction, Sater spent more than a decade as an informant on the Mafia and on national security-related matters. Federal prosecutors kept even the existence of Sater’s racketeering case out of publicly available court records for 14 years.
During that time, Sater launched a luxury real estate development career. Sealed court records prevented potential customers or partners from learning about his past association with organized crime. Sater altered his name, to Satter, and became a top executive in Bayrock, a development firm that partnered with Trump on the Trump Soho high-rise hotel in Manhattan and other branded luxury real estate deals.
Civil lawsuits — including a sealed case filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York that was obtained by the AP — have alleged that Bayrock engaged in a pattern of misconduct during Sater’s tenure, sometimes involving potential Trump projects. The AP obtained a copy of the sealed lawsuit, which was refiled last month, when the original complaint was included as part of a lawsuit Sater filed in an Israeli court. Bayrock’s attorney told AP that the firm did not mislead anyone about Sater’s past and denied any misconduct. The firm has not yet responded to a version of the complaint refiled in U.S. court last month.
Trump’s lawyer, Garten, said Trump had no knowledge of alleged improprieties at Bayrock or reason to believe that Sater was a major stakeholder in Bayrock’s projects. Trump only learned of Sater’s troubled past when The New York Times reported details in December 2007. In the article, Trump distanced himself from Sater, saying: “I didn’t really know him very well.”
Garten said Trump had no further interactions with Sater at Bayrock following the revelations of his criminal history. But a new relationship was formed in 2010 when Trump offered Sater office space and a chance to round up new business possibilities for the Trump Organization.
“The guy’s been in business a long time, he’s got a lot of contacts,” Garten said of Sater.
Sater was alleged to have blood ties to the Russian Mafia and was a business partner of Milken crony Leon Black. Sater is also allegedly the man who sent a message that the Mafia would murder Deep Capture reporter Patrick Byrne if he continued his crusade against illegal naked short selling. And Sater is the same guy whose naked short selling colleague, Alain Chalem, had his ears and face shredded with bullets. Nice guy.
But there’s more…
Trump was very busy in the 1980’s in New York and Atlantic City. He built an empire of hotels, casinos and high rises. The mob was very active in the construction industry in both places… they controlled things there with an iron fist. This is where you find the ties that bind Trump to La Cosa Nostra in his lavish projects.
In Atlantic City, Trump purchased a bar at roughly twice its market value from Salvatore Testa. He belonged to the Philadelphia mafia and is the son of Philip “Chicken Man” Testa, who for a short time, headed up the Philly mob after Angelo Bruno was whacked in 1980. Harrah’s casino, half owned by Trump, would be built on that land, and Trump would quickly buy out his partner, Harrah’s Entertainment, and rename the casino Trump Plaza.
Nicademo “Little Nicky” Scarfo (who became boss after the elder Testa was blown up) and his nephew Phillip “crazy Phil” Leonetti controlled two of the major construction and concrete companies in Atlantic City. Both of these — Scarf, Inc. and Nat Nat — did work on the construction of Harrah’s. In addition, Scarfo, whose reign as head of the Philly mob was one of the bloodiest in history, controlled the bartenders union, which represented Trump’s workers in Atlantic City, according to George Anastasia’s book, “Blood and Honor.”
Trump was also closely tied to Kenny Shapiro, who in turn, was connected to bribing Atlantic City Mayor Michael J. Matthews. His term ended in 1984 when he was convicted on extortion. On the tapes, in 1983, Simone, talking about Leonetti, states: “He’s a nice-looking boy…Nicky’s nephew, he can sit with the…mayor. Ah, and Kenny’s (Shapiro) got the mayor through this kid Phillip.”
In New York City, several of Trump’s buildings were built by S&A Concrete Co., a concern partly owned by Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, the boss of the Genovese crime family. Trump’s own attorney was also linked to the crime organization.
And there is yet more…
From Yahoo! Politics:
The daughter of a reputed New Jersey mob figure says her late father had a longtime relationship with Donald Trump that included gambling millions of dollars at one of his casinos, flying on his helicopter and partying aboard his private yacht.
In 1991, Trump first faced questions about his dealings with Robert LiButti, a plump, balding and nationally famous horse breeder with an explosive temper who would later be banned from New Jersey casinos for his ties to Mafia boss John Gotti. At the time, New Jersey state regulators had launched an investigation into allegations by nine employees of one of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos, the Trump Plaza, that the hotel had repeatedly removed African-Americans and women from craps tables after LiButti, one of the highest-rolling gamblers in the city’s history, loudly complained about their presence when he was playing.
Asked for comment for this story, Trump, through his spokeswoman, sent this email to Yahoo News: “During the years I very successfully ran the casino business, I knew many high rollers. I assume Mr. LiButti was one of them, but I don’t recognize the name.”
Edith Creamer, LiButti’s daughter, says that is not true. That Trump and her father knew each other quite well. “He’s a liar,” said Creamer. “Of course he knew him. I flew in the [Trump] helicopter with [Trump’s then wife] Ivana and the kids. My dad flew it up and down [to Atlantic City]. My 35th birthday party was at the Plaza and Donald was there. After the party, we went on his boat, his big yacht. I like Trump, but it pisses me off that he denies knowing my father. That hurts me.”
And as far as putting Americans back to work, the The Federalist had this to say:
Another issue that needs to be addressed in Trump’s New York operations is the use of undocumented Polish workers to demolish the Bonwit Teller building, which made way for the Trump Tower. Only a handful of union workers from Housewreckers Local 95 were employed on the site, the vast majority were illegal Polish alien workers, toiling under inhumane conditions, and wildly underpaid. Trump and his associates were found guilty in 1991 of conspiring to avoid paying pension and welfare fund contributions.
Two questions arise from this. First, how did Trump get away with using such obvious scab labor without raising the ire of local 95? More importantly, how can the candidate who promises to secure the border and bring good jobs back to America explain having farmed out good-paying jobs, legally entitled to American workers, instead to a bunch of illegal immigrants? When the rubber hit the road Donald Trump didn’t walk the walk, he lined his pockets and sold out American workers.
Then we have pay for play from the Chinese. In Jersey City, Trump has a project connected to Kushner Companies. It’s called Trump Bay Street. The project has raised $50 million so far, with about 25% of the funding come from loans through a visa program known as EB-5. That program is controversial as it gives foreigners a two-year visa in exchange for investing at least $500,000 in a project that is promised to create jobs. Many times, the individuals awarded those visas have a good chance of obtaining permanent residency for themselves and their families. Kushner Companies is led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. So, invest in a Trump venture, get a visa. Trump has been big on denouncing China, so this makes you scratch your head.
Before we elect someone and vow fealty to him as president, don’t you think it warrants looking into his past dealings? Shouldn’t someone… anyone… hold Trump accountable for his past and compare it to what he is saying now? Or are we just blindly going to elect someone on populism… trusting he will do what he promises. Promises, I might remind you, that seem to change daily. So many unanswered questions.