Trump Has Always Been a Conman

Donald Trump has always been a conman, a fraud, a liar, a crook, a thief. He has raised his three oldest deplorable children, who have joined him in the family business, to be conmen, frauds, liars, crooks, thieves. This was all well-known before and during his presidential candidacy, but only recently have in-depth investigations revealed the extent of his lifelong chicanery.

The first was the massive piece published by the New York Times earlier this month, "Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches from His Father," which obliterated the myth that Trump was largely self-made following minor financial help from his father.

The latest is another massive piece by Heather Vogell, Andrea Bernstein, Meg Cramer, and Peter Elkind, "Pump and Trump," which details a joint investigation by ProPublica and WNYC that found "patterns of deceptive practices" by the Trump Organization "in a dozen deals across the globe."
Since Donald Trump's fortunes came surging back with the success of The Apprentice 14 years ago, his deals have often been scrutinized for the large number of his partners who have ventured to the very edges of the law, and sometimes beyond. Those associates have included accused money launderers, alleged funders of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and a felon who slashed someone in the face with a broken margarita glass.

Trump and his company have typically countered by saying they were merely licensing his name on these real estate projects in exchange for a fee. They weren't the developers or in any way responsible.

But an eight-month investigation by ProPublica and WNYC reveals that the post-millennium Trump business model is different from what has been previously reported. The Trumps were typically way more than mere licensors or bystanders in their often-troubled deals. They were deeply involved in these projects. They helped mislead investors and buyers — and they profited handsomely from it.

Patterns of deceptive practices occurred in a dozen deals across the globe, as the business expanded into international projects, and the Trumps often participated.

...The Trumps often made money even when projects failed. And when they tanked, the Trumps simply ignored their prior claims of close involvement, denied any responsibility and walked away.
The whole thing is worth your time to read in its entirety.

Writing about the investigation at the New Yorker, Adam Davidson observes: "It is becoming increasingly clear that, in the language of business schools, the Trump Organization's core competency is in profiting from misrepresentation and deceit and, potentially, fraud."

With a heaping likelihood of facilitating money laundering for global oligarchs, as well.

Indeed, just today, Jon Swaine and Scott Stedman at the Guardian have a piece about Aras Agalarov, the orchestrator and one of the attendees of the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr in June 2016, having "formed a new American shell company a month before [the meeting] with an accountant who has had clients accused of money laundering and embezzlement." Agalarov "created the U.S. company anonymously while preparing to move almost $20m into the country during the time of the presidential election campaign, according to interviews and corporate filings. ...Scott Balber, Agalarov's attorney, said the company was formed for 'real estate transactions' and did not elaborate."

But Trump's connections to criminals who wanted to use real estate transactions to launder money significantly predates the 2016 election. As the authors of "Pump and Dump" note: "Given that the 'buyers' [of units in Trump Organization projects] were often shadowy shell companies or other paper entities, it was nearly impossible to discern who the actual purchasers were, let alone why they backed out."

It's good that we're getting more insight into Trump's connection to international organized crime and his lifetime of being a shameless conman. It would have been even better if these investigations had been done before he was already the sitting president.

Maybe it wouldn't have mattered. But if there was any chance that it could have mattered, it was long before his party had two years to consolidate power behind his increasingly authoritarian regime.

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