Today in This Corrupt Oligarchy: Welcome Chris Christie Back to the News!

There have long been rumors that Russian oligarchs used Trump Tower (and other Trump properties) to launder their money — and one question has always been whether Russians were the only people with whom Donald Trump was engaged in this sort of shady business.

Although Trump himself is not directly implicated in this story, the international corruption is veering perilously close to him.

Bradley Hope, Tom Wright, and Rebecca Davis O'Brien at the Wall Street Journal report that the Department of Justice is investigating whether Jho Low, a fugitive Malaysian financier, "laundered tens of millions of dollars through two associates and used the funds to pay a U.S. legal team that includes former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and a lawyer who represents [Donald] Trump."

Low, who is described in U.S. court filings as "playing a central role in the alleged embezzlement of $4.5 billion from a Malaysian fund called 1Malaysia Development Bhd," was charged by Malaysian authorities this week with money laundering in what "investigators suspect may be one of the biggest financial frauds in history."
The Justice Department, in July 2016 and last year, filed civil lawsuits in federal court in California seeking to recover assets from Mr. Low and others including mansions, artwork, and a yacht allegedly bought with 1MDB funds. It is now pursuing a criminal investigation in which Mr. Low, who has U.S. assets, is a target, these people said.

Since 2016, Mr. Low's access to the global financial system has been sharply curtailed by banks wary of handling allegedly tainted funds, according to the people familiar with the matter. That has made it difficult for him to pay directly for a range of outlays, from lifestyle expenses to legal and advisory services, according to these people.

...The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Low's potential use of two intermediaries to facilitate the payments through the international financial system, people familiar with the matter say. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

...The team of lawyers and consultants working for Mr. Low includes Mr. Christie, who briefly headed Mr. Trump's presidential transition team; Mr. Trump's longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz; Bobby Burchfield, a lawyer who has served as the Trump Organization's outside ethics adviser; and Ed Rogers, a Washington lobbyist with close ties to the Republican Party.
That lobbyist is former deputy RNC finance chair Elliott Broidy, who has been suspected of taking the fall for Donald Trump in the second hush payment arranged by Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen to conceal an affair. Broidy was also vice chair of the Trump campaign's joint fund with the Republican Party during the 2016 presidential campaign. As a consequence: "The route of any payments to Mr. Broidy [from Low] also are part of the Justice Department probe."
The public-integrity section of the Justice Department is separately investigating some of the lobbying work on behalf of Mr. Low, including whether Mr. Broidy attempted to sell his influence in the Trump administration to Mr. Low, who in turn was allegedly acting as an agent of the Malaysian and Chinese governments, people familiar with the investigations said.

...Mr. Low has been seeking to influence the administration to drop its investigations into him and 1MDB, according to people familiar with Mr. Low's dealings and the Justice Department investigations.
Naturally, Broidy denies all of this and Trump, if he ever addresses it at all, will say he doesn't know anything about it, and it's just a sad witch hunt etc.

But the fact is that people know this U.S. president is for sale. And this might seem like a convoluted and unimportant story in the grand scheme of the Trump Regime's vast indecencies, but it's indicative of a chronic, toxic corruption that is the harbinger of a failed democracy and hallmark of an oligarchy.

Further, White House access being sold to the highest bidder means that it might get sold to spies. NB: Low "was was allegedly acting as an agent of the Malaysian and Chinese governments" while Broidy was reportedly trying to leverage his White House access on Low's behalf.

We are so far past "It can't happen here." Indeed it can. It already has.

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