AP NEWS

Trump’s connections

March 8, 2017

We need Congress to get serious about investigating President Trump’s Russian connections now. I think we need an independent, 9/11 style commission to handle this investigation. More of President Trump’s Russian connections are being revealed each day. The recent story in the New Yorker by Adam Davidson is particularly troubling. Trump’s hotel deal in Azerbaijan, a notoriously corrupt State, is linked through Ziya Mammadov, the Transportation Minister of Azerbaijan, to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The US has sanctioned the Guard as a terrorist entity. It sponsors and supports terrorism materially and financially all over the Middle East. The Trump organization entered this hotel deal in Azerbaijan in 2014, and reported receiving $2.8 billion before he backed out of the real estate project a month after the 2016 election.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act forbids an American company from participating in a scheme to reward a foreign government official in exchange for material benefit or preferential treatment. But the Trump Organization may have broken the law in its work with the Mammadov family. The law even made it a crime for an American company to unknowingly benefit from a partner’s corruption if it could have discovered illicit activity but avoided doing so.

Then there is Trump’s association with Dmitry Rybolovlev, the Russian Fertilizer King. He sold this Russian oligarch a house in Palm Beach, Florida and pocketed a cool $60 million profit on the sale. Neither he nor Rybolovlev ever lived on the property. This sale appears to be a thinly-veiled money laundering transaction to funnel money from Russia to Trump. In addition, Deutsche Bank in Germany was busted for laundering more than ten billion dollars out of Russia and into places like New York. This stood out because Deutsche has also loaned more than a billion dollars to Donald Trump, who just happens to be based out of New York, even at a time when the bank was struggling and Trump was viewed as a poor loan risk by every other bank out there. It turns out Deutsche was funneling that money through Bank of Cyprus. Guess who owns a 9.9% share in Bank of Cyprus? Dmitry Rybolovlev. We can now draw a direct line of more than a billion dollars flowing from Russia, through Rybolovlev, to Donald Trump.

Senator Sherrod Brown has said that: “Congress and the Trump administration has a duty to examine whether the President or his family is exposed to terrorist financing, sanctions, money laundering and other imprudent associations through their business holdings and connections.” We agree with the Senator. It is WAY past time for Congress to insist that President Trump release his tax returns: or if he refuses to do that, Congress needs to subpoena those returns from Treasury.