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He’s the President, yet we’re still trying to answer basic questions about how his business works: What deals are happening, who they’re happening with, and if the President and his family are keeping their promise to separate the Trump Organization from the Trump White House. “Trump, Inc.” is a joint reporting project from WNYC Studios and ProPublica that digs deep into these questions. We’ll be layout out what we know, what we don’t and how you can help us fill in the gaps.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts, including On the Media, Radiolab, Death, Sex & Money, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Nancy and many others. ProPublica is a non-profit investigative newsroom.
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Whispers of money laundering have swirled around Donald Trump’s businesses for years. One of his casinos, for example, was fined $10 million for not trying hard enough to prevent such machinations. Investors with shady financial histories sometimes popped up in his foreign ventures. And on Sunday, The New York Times reported that anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank internally flagged multiple transactions by Trump companies as suspicious. (A spokesperson for the Trump Organization called the article “absolute nonsense.”) The remarkably troubled recent history of Deutsche Bank, its past money-laundering woes — and the bank’s striking relationship with Trump — are the subjects of this week’s episode. The German bank loaned a cumulative total of around $2.5 billion to Trump projects over the past two decades, and the bank continued writing him nine-figure checks even after he defaulted on a $640 million obligation and sued the bank, blaming it for his failure to pay back the debt.Trump, Inc. isn’t the only one examining the president’s relationship with the bank. Congressional investigators have gone to court seeking the kind of detailed — and usually secret — banking records that could reveal potential misdeeds related to the president’s businesses, according to recent filings by two congressional committees. The filings were made in response to a highly unusual move by lawyers for Trump, his family and his company seeking to quash congressional subpoenas issued to Deutsche Bank and Capital One, a second institution he banked with. Trump’s lawyers have contended that the congressional subpoenas “were issued to harass” Trump and damage him politically.Earlier today, a federal judge in New York declined to issue a preliminary injunction to block the subpoenas. During the hearing in which he delivered that ruling, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said Congress is within its rights to require the banks to turn over Trump’s financial information, even if the disclosure is harmful to him.For their part, the filings for the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees say they are “investigating serious and urgent questions concerning the safety of banking practices, money laundering in the financial sector, foreign influence in the U.S. political process, and the threat of foreign financial leverage, including over the President.” The inquiry includes investigating whether Trump’s accounts were involved in two large schemes involving Deutsche Bank and Russian clients. The committees want to determine “the volume of illicit funds that may have flowed through the bank, and whether any touched the accounts held there by Mr. Trump, his family, or business.” Links to Russia will get a particularly close look. “The Committee is examining whether Mr. Trump’s foreign business deals and financial ties were part of the Russian government’s efforts to entangle business and political leaders in corrupt activity or otherwise obtain leverage over them,” the filing stated. The episode explores some of the Trump-related moves by the bank:➧ Deutsche Bank’s private wealth unit loaned Trump $48 million — after he had defaulted on his $640 million loan and the bank’s commercial unit didn’t want to lend him any further funds — so that Trump could pay back another unit of Deutsche Bank. “No one has ever seen anything like it,” said David Enrich, finance editor of The New York Times, who is writing a book about the bank and spoke to Trump, Inc.➧ Deutsche Bank loaned Trump’s company $125 million as part of the overall $150 million purchase of the ailing Doral golf resort in Miami in 2012. The loans’ primary collateral was land and buildings that he paid only $105 million for, county land records show. The apparent favorable terms raise questions about whether the bank’s loan was unusually risky. ➧  To widespread alarm, and at least one protest that Trump would not be able to pay his lease obligations, Deutsche Bank’s private wealth group loaned the Trump Organization an additional $175 million to renovate the Old Post Office Building in Washington and turn it into a luxury hotel. Like Trump, Deutsche Bank has been scrutinized for its dealings in Russia. The bank paid more than $600 million to regulators in 2017 and agreed to a consent order that cited “serious compliance deficiencies” that “spanned Deutsche Bank’s global empire.” The case focused on “mirror trades,” which Deutsche Bank facilitated between 2011 and 2015. The trades were sham transactions whose sole purpose appeared to be to illicitly convert rubles into pounds and dollars — some $10 billion worth. A spokesperson said Deutsche Bank has increased its anti-financial-crime staff in recent years and is “committed to cooperating with authorized investigations.” The bank said it has policies in place to address the potential for conflicts of interest, including “special measures with respect to clients that hold public office or perform public functions in the U.S.”The bank was “laundering money for wealthy Russians and people connected to Putin and the Kremlin in a variety of ways for almost the exact time period that they were doing business with Donald Trump,” Enrich said. “And all of that money through Deutsche Bank was being channeled through the same exact legal entity in the U.S. that was handling the Donald Trump relationship in the U.S. And so there are a lot of coincidences here.”  You can contact us via Signal, WhatsApp or voicemail at 347-244-2134. Here’s more about how you can contact us securely.You can always email us at tips@trumpincpodcast.org.And finally, you can use the Postal Service:Trump, Inc. at ProPublica155 Ave of the Americas, 13th FloorNew York, NY 10013“Trump, Inc.” is a production of WNYC Studios and ProPublica. Support our work by visiting donate.propublica.org or by becoming a supporting member of WNYC. Subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts.
President Donald Trump has refused to release his tax returns. He has sued his former accountants and Deutsche Bank to keep them from releasing his returns after they were subpoenaed to do so. And his treasury secretary has refused to provide the returns to Congress.But bit by bit, The New York Times’ Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner have been gathering returns and tax data from Trump’s earlier years. In the latest installment, they show how Trump claimed over a billion dollars in business losses from 1985 to 1994. In some years, he lost more than any other taxpayer.In this Trump, Inc. podcast extra, we speak to Craig about how she got the story, what she found and what to look for if and when the president’s tax returns are released. “You don’t lose this much money unless you’re a really bad businessman,” Craig told us.When the Times asked for comment from Trump officials, a spokesperson initially said, "You can make a large income and not have to pay large amount of taxes.” Later, Trump's lawyer Charles Harder, wrote that the tax information was “demonstrably false.” He cited no specific errors. You can contact us via Signal, WhatsApp or voicemail at 347-244-2134. Here’s more about how you can contact us securely.You can always email us at tips@trumpincpodcast.org.And finally, you can use the postal service:Trump, Inc. at ProPublica155 Ave of the Americas, 13th Floor New York, NY 10013“Trump, Inc.” is a production of WNYC Studios and ProPublica. Support our work by visiting donate.propublica.org or by becoming a supporting member of WNYC. Subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts.
Find “Trump, Inc.” wherever you get your podcasts. This week’s episode examines the intersection of money, presidential access and security, and the push and pull between government spending and private profits at Mar-a-Lago. In April 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s Palm Beach, Florida, estate and club, for a two-day summit. While Xi and his delegation stayed at a nearby hotel, Trump and his advisers stayed at the peach-colored, waterfront resort. That evening, Trump and a dozen of his closest advisers hosted Xi and the Chinese delegation in an ornate dining room where they ate Dover sole and New York strip steak. Those sorts of lavish, formal gatherings are expected for a major bilateral summit.But then there are less formal events. At some point later that evening, a group repaired to Mar-a-Lago’s Library Bar, a wood-paneled study with a portrait of Trump in tennis whites (titled “The Visionary”) hanging nearby. The group asked the bartender to leave the room so it “could speak confidentially,” according to an email written by Mar-a-Lago’s catering director, Brooke Watson.View noteThe Secret Service guarded the door, according to the email. The bartender wasn’t allowed to return. And members of the group began pouring themselves drinks. No one paid.Six days later, on April 13, Mar-a-Lago created a bill for those drinks, tallying $838 worth of alcohol plus a 20% service charge. It covered 54 drinks (making for an average price of $18.62 each) of premium liquor: Chopin vodka, Patron and Don Julio Blanco tequilas and Woodford Reserve bourbon. Watson’s email did not specify how many people consumed the alcohol or who the participants were. (It stated that she “was told” the participants included then-strategist Steve Bannon and then-deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin. Bannon, who has said he stopped drinking years ago, said he didn’t drink at Mar-a-Lago and didn’t recall the episode. Hagin did not respond to requests for comment.)View noteThe bill was sent to the State Department, which objected to covering it. It was then forwarded to the White House, which paid the tab.The unusual cocktail hour underscores a unique push and pull in the current administration: Donald Trump’s White House pays a bill and Donald Trump’s club reaps the revenue. (It’s unclear if the White House asked any of those drinking to reimburse the government; the White House declined to comment.)The premium liquor costs are only the beginning of government spending at Mar-a-Lago that emerges in hundreds of pages of receipts and email correspondence between Trump Organization employees and staffers for the State Department, which oversees presidential diplomatic travel and works with the Secret Service and White House. The emails show that the president’s company refused to agree to what was essentially a bulk-purchase agreement with the federal government, and that it charged the maximum allowable federal rate for hotel rooms. The Trump Organization could be obstinate when it came to rates for, say, function rooms at Mar-a-Lago, a problem that was eased when the president signed a law lifting the maximum “micro-purchase” the government can make.  The emails have been released as part of an ongoing lawsuit between the nonprofit Property of the People, a Washington-based transparency group, and the federal government. Property of the People provided the emails and receipts to ProPublica and we, in turn, have added them to our tracker of government spending at Trump-owned properties for our interactive graphic Paying the President. (The State Department is expected to release an additional 1,800 pages of records as part of the lawsuit, which was filed under the Freedom of Information Act.)In response to questions from ProPublica, the State Department asked for and received the documents described in this article. State Department officials promised a detailed response, but then declined comment.The documents reveal the intersection between Trump’s conflicting interests. The emails show that “Mar-a-Lago wanted to have the government money without the government rules,” said Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who served on the congressionally chartered Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.A few months after Trump’s inauguration, the State Department proposed a contract that would pay $200,000 for all room costs for federal employees who stay at Mar-a-Lago over the first term of his presidency. But Mar-a-Lago rejected the government's proposal. Instead, Trump’s resort bills the government the maximum permitted by federal rules: 300% of the government’s per diem rate, which works out to $546 per night. Mar-a-Lago rejected the proposed flat-fee arrangement, according to the emails, because of concerns the club’s lawyers had about the Federal Acquisition Regulation, or FAR, which governs federal purchases and is overseen by contracting officers. FAR seeks to promote competition and maintain “the public’s trust.” The emails suggest the Trump Organization was worried that the lack of competitive bidding could run afoul of federal rules, among other concerns. A State Department staffer wrote in May 2017 that Mar-a-Lago’s attorneys brought up federal “small business set-aside” requirements, which set strict rules for sole-source government bids for small businesses. The State Department staffer wrote that Mar-a-Lago’s “concerns are based on their general lack of knowledge on the applicability of the FAR regulations.” View noteMar-a-Lago and the Trump Organization did not respond to ProPublica’s requests for comment. Since Mar-a-Lago wouldn’t agree to a bulk contract, the State Department had to go to Plan B. When it came to the meeting with China’s president, for example, the agency had to go into some contortions to make Mar-a-Lago’s $546 nightly room rate square with its rules on competitive bidding, given that there are other less expensive hotels nearby. At least 16 staffers stayed at the Hampton Inn in West Palm Beach; at least eight stayed at the nearby Hilton Garden Inn; and four others stayed at the Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa, where the press pool also stayed, according to a hotel manifest obtained through the FOIA lawsuit. The government-negotiated rates at those establishments ranged from $195 to $305 per night. View note(At least 24 White House and federal staffers stayed at Mar-a-Lago during the Xi visit. They included then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; then-chief of staff Reince Priebus; then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin; then-National Economic Council adviser Gary Cohn; and other advisers, past and present, such as Bannon, Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller and Sean Spicer.) View noteThe State Department also broke with protocol regarding taxpayer-funded travel and applied for a Citibank travel card just for Mar-a-Lago visits. Meanwhile, other problems emerged:• Mar-a-Lago can’t process charges over $10,000, which led to problems when the club split bills and charged the government card for multiple transactions, emails show.View note• Mar-a-Lago refused government requests to waive the costs of its "function room” for press and other official meetings in April 2017, leading to a near-violation of a $3,500 government spending cap. Last year, Trump signed a law that lifted that cap, known as the “micro-purchase threshold,” from $3,500 to $10,000. The law does not appear to have been aimed at facilitating spending at Mar-a-Lago, but it allows the club to avoid additional government contracting rules when charging sums below $10,000.• In one instance, after the government was charged more than $3,500 for conference space at Mar-a-Lago, it asked the Trump Organization for a 10% discount so that it wouldn’t violate the micro-purchase threshold. Mar-a-Lago relented, but only after months of haggling.View noteIn the emails, the director of presidential travel support, Michael Dobbs, frequently described the creation of a charge card unique to Mar-a-Lago as a “headache.”  View noteAs Steve Schooner, a professor of government contracting law at George Washington University, put it, “The fact that we have a State Department contracting officer saying this is a headache is a reminder that, but for the relationship with President Trump, this would not be a contract the government would be having. That's a problem."Many of the expenses incurred by White House staff are arranged and paid for by the White House’s Office of Administration. These expenses are not required to be made public. The same goes for Secret Service spending to protect the president on such visits. (The Government Accountability Office released a report last month evaluating spending at Mar-a-Lago in February and March 2017 and found that a total of $60,000 was spent at the hotel during four trips; the figure ran to $13.6 million when costs for plane travel, secret service, security and other logistics were included.)The State Department payments, and its work on behalf of the White House and other traveling staff, are considered public records.Between 2015 and June of 2018, at least $16.1 million has poured into Trump Organization-managed and branded hotels, golf courses and restaurants from his campaign, Republican organizations and government agencies. Because Trump’s business empire is overseen by a trust of which he is the sole beneficiary, he profits from these hotel stays, banquet hall rentals and meals.Federal spending rules don't specifically address agency-level spending on alcohol that is directly invoiced to the government, as occurred with the $1,000 bar tab at Mar-a-Lago. The State Department and the White House have had exemptions included in their appropriations legislation to allow for alcohol purchases. Individual government employees are not permitted to use charge cards for "improper" purposes, such as alcohol, and federal per diem rules allow for charges for breakfast, lunch, dinner and related tips and taxes but specifically exclude alcoholic drinks. Six government contracting experts said Mar-a-Lago may be violating rules requiring competitive bids. They argue that Mar-a-Lago’s practice of invoicing meeting spaces, hotel stays and meals separately is a way to get around federal spending rules.“Mar-a-Lago didn’t want to compete, they wanted to sneak around the requirements, and charge much higher prices than the competition,” said Tiefer, who served as deputy general counsel with the House of Representatives for 11 years. “It’s not the first time in history that vendors have tried to get around the rules by charging individual components. This is familiar to every contracting officer. And it’s wrong. It’s not just a technicality. It’s not a game. The only safeguard the public has against the Trumps swallowing up all the government business is at least minimal competition.”Several experts contend the State Department is exploiting loopholes in government spending rules to facilitate official gatherings at Mar-a-Lago. “It’s one of the biggest fears coming true, that they are bending over backwards to help the Trump Organization,” said Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project On Government Oversight. “I'm frustrated the State Department would exploit the system to bill Uncle Sam and the taxpayers. To have the government bicker to get a 10% discount shows the Trump Organization isn't putting the American public first. It's a worst-case scenario when it comes to conflicts of interest, with the president and his children putting themselves and profits ahead of the public."###“Trump, Inc.” is exploring whether the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still enforcing consumer financial laws and holding companies accountable. We want to hear from people who work at the agency or left recently (particularly those familiar with enforcement actions, supervisory exams and areas such as payday lending and debt collection). We’re also hoping to hear from consumers and companies who have interacted with the bureau in recent years. To find out more, click here. “Trump, Inc.” is a production of WNYC Studios and ProPublica. Support our work by visiting donate.propublica.org or by becoming a supporting member of WNYC. Subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts.
'Harm to Ongoing Matter'

'Harm to Ongoing Matter'

2019-04-1900:34:411

On Thursday, the “Trump, Inc.” team gathered with laptops, pizza and Post-its to disconnect — and to read special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.What we found was page after page of jaw-dropping details about the inner workings of the administration of President Donald Trump, meetings with foreign officials and plots to affect our elections. But we also found rich details on how Trump ran his business dealings in Russia, itself the subject of our recent episode on his Moscow business partners.It backed up a lot of our earlier reporting: The deal with Andrey Rozov, a relatively unknown developer whose claim to international prominence was the purchase of a building in Manhattan’s garment district, did go further than agreements with other developers. The type of development they were hoping for would need signoff from Russia’s powers that be — namely, President Vladimir Putin — potentially putting Trump in the position of owing favors to a hostile foreign power. And the deal went on longer than the Trump campaign wanted the public to know, with the then-candidate rebuffing Michael Cohen’s concerns about the accuracy of his portrayal of his relationships with Russia.Here are a few of our takeaways:The deal was bigger…The Mueller report puts the terms of Trump’s most infamous Trump Tower deal side by side with a failed prior deal with the family of Russian pop star Emin Agalarov. In doing so, it proposes an answer to why Trump chose to move forward with Rozov: he offered Trump a much better deal.In fact, Cohen said the tower overall "was potentially a $1 billion deal.” Under the terms of the agreement, the Trump Organization would get an upfront fee, a share of sales and rental revenue, and an additional 20% of the operating profit. The deal offered by the well-known Agalarov developers, in contrast, would have brought in a flat 3.5%. We’d tried to reach Rozov to talk about the deal for our earlier reporting. He never responded.For Trump, this agreement promised to be the deal of a lifetime.There were more Russian contacts…The report says Cohen and Felix Sater, a fixer who brought the Trump Organization together with the potential developer for the Moscow deal, both believed securing Putin’s endorsement was key. There was also plenty of outreach from Russians, many of them offering to make that very connection.But even as the two were figuring out how to pitch the tower plan to Putin, at least three intermediaries who claimed to have connections to the Russian president were reaching out to Trump and his associates. They promised help with Trump’s business interests and his campaign, the report says.One was Dmitry Klokov, whom Cohen looked up online and mistakenly identified as a former Olympic weightlifter. Klokov, in fact, worked for a government-owned electric company and was a former aide to Russia’s energy minister. He told Cohen he could facilitate a meeting with a “person of interest” — that is, Putin — and also offered help creating “synergy on a government level.” But Klokov’s overtures for talks on matters beyond mere business interests were rebuffed by Cohen.The report also clarified that it was Sater who approached the Russian developer with the idea of a Trump Tower Moscow — and later brought his pitch to the Trump Organization. This sequence of events raises new questions about whether the tower deal, which Trump had wanted for decades, was part of the Russian government’s multiple intelligence approaches to Trump and his advisers at the time.One other figure in our previous Trump Moscow episode surfaced again in the Mueller report: Yevgeny Dvoskin, a Russian national with a U.S. criminal record and alleged ties to organized crime. Dvoskin is now a part-owner of Genbank, a small Russian bank sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury. He grew up in Brighton Beach at the same time as Sater, who, in 2016, called on Dvoskin to invite Trump and Cohen to Russia for an exploratory visit. To arrange the invitation, Dvoskin asked for copies of Cohen’s and Trump’s passports, which Cohen was happy to provide. The Mueller report says that Trump’s personal assistant even brought Trump’s passport to Cohen’s office, but that it is not clear whether it was ever passed on to Sater.Sater declined to comment for the podcast. Genbank and Dvoskin did not respond to earlier requests for comment.And there was more cover-up…Mueller describes continued efforts to mislead investigators and the public about the Trump Moscow deal and associates’ contacts with Russian officials. Many of the details are gleaned from Cohen’s cooperation.Cohen confronted Trump after he denied having business ties to Russia in July 2016 and pointed out that Trump Tower Moscow was still in play. “Trump told Cohen that Trump Tower Moscow was not a deal yet and said, ‘Why mention it if it is not a deal?’” according to the Mueller report.To maintain Cohen’s loyalty during the investigation, multiple Trump staff members and friends told him the “boss” “loves you,” according to the Mueller report. “You are loved,” another associate told him in an email. Cohen also said the president’s lawyer told him he’d be protected as long as he didn’t go “rogue.”The report concludes that active negotiations in Moscow continued into the summer of 2016. Cohen told Mueller’s team that the project wasn’t officially dead until January 2017, when it was listed with other deals that needed to be “closed out” ahead of the inauguration.After admitting to lying to Congress about when the Moscow deal fizzled, Cohen told Mueller about the “script,” or talking points he’d developed with Trump to downplay his ties to Russia. He also said he believed lawyers associated with his joint defense agreement — including attorneys for the president — edited out a key line about communications with Russia from his congressional testimony. The offending line: “The building project led me to make limited contacts with Russian government officials.”You can contact us via Signal, WhatsApp or voicemail at 347-244-2134. Here’s more about how you can contact us securely.You can always email us at tips@trumpincpodcast.org.And finally, you can use the Postal Service:Trump, Inc. at ProPublica155 Ave of the Americas, 13th FloorNew York, NY 10013“Trump, Inc.” is a production of WNYC Studios and ProPublica. Support our work by visiting donate.propublica.org or by becoming a supporting member of WNYC. Subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts.
In this Trump, Inc. podcast extra, we talk about what we know, what we don’t know and what we still want to know after Attorney General William Barr gave his summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Trump, Inc co-hosts Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz joined Maya Wiley, professor at the New School and MSNBC Legal Analyst on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show to review the on-going investigations. Collusion was never the only thing. For the last year and a half, we have been looking at the conflicts of interest that pervade President Donald Trump’s administration. That trail has led us from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to Panama, India and, yes, Russia, where we reported on how Trump’s associates appealed to the Kremlin for help at the same time the Kremlin was preparing an attack on the 2016 elections.And Andrea Bernstein also talks with Eric Umansky, Trump, Inc. Editor and Deputy Managing Editor at ProPublica, about how to interpret what we know (and don't know) about the special counsel's report.
This week, we’re exploring President Donald Trump’s efforts to do business in Moscow. Our team — Heather Vogell, Andrea Bernstein, Meg Cramer and Katie Zavadski — dug into just who Trump was working with and just what Trump needed from Russia to get a deal done. (Listen to the podcast episode here.)First, the big picture. We already knew that Trump had business interests involving Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign — which he denied — that could have been influencing his policy positions. As the world has discovered, Trump was negotiating to develop a tower in Moscow while running for president. Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress about being in contact with the Kremlin about the project during the campaign. All of that explains why congressional investigators are scrutinizing Trump’s Moscow efforts. And we’ve found more:•  Trump’s partner on the project didn't appear to be in a position to get the project approved and built. On Oct. 28, 2015 — the same day as a Republican primary debate — Trump signed a letter of intent with the partner, a developer named Andrey Rozov, to build a 400-unit condominium and hotel tower in Moscow.In a letter Rozov wrote to Cohen pitching his role, he cited his work on a suburban development outside of Moscow, a 12-story office building in Manhattan’s Garment District (which he bought rather than constructed) and two projects in Williston, North Dakota, a town of around 30,000.We looked into each of them.Rozov’s Moscow project has faced lawsuits from homeowners, some of which have settled and some of which are ongoing, and the company developing it filed for bankruptcy. It remains unfinished.Property records show that Rozov owned his New York building for just over a year. He bought it for about $35 million in cash, took out an almost $13 million loan several months later, made no significant improvements and then sold it for a 23 percent profit. Trump’s former business associate, Felix Sater, who once pleaded guilty to financial fraud and reportedly later became an asset for U.S. intelligence agencies, is listed on the sale as an “authorized signatory.”We did find a developer with a workforce housing project in Williston, as well as approved plans for a mall/hotel/water-park. (The town attracted interest from developers as the center of North Dakota’s oil boom earlier in the decade.) Rozov’s name doesn’t appear on materials relating to the company, but a person familiar with the project confirmed that this is what Rozov was bragging about in his letter. Oil prices cratered and the mega-mall was never built.Rozov did not respond to an email seeking comment.Here is a rendering of the plan:Plans for "Williston Crossing," a 218 acre site in Williams County, North Dakota.(Williston Crossing Major Comprehensive Plan Amendment Presentation/Gensler)•  An owner of a sanctioned Russian bank that vouched for the Trump Organization in Moscow had a criminal history that included involvement in a Russian mafia gas-bootlegging scheme in the U.S.Making a business trip to Russia requires an official invitation. According to correspondence published by BuzzFeed, Sater arranged for an invitation from Genbank, a small Russian bank that expanded significantly in Crimea after Russia invaded in 2014.One of Genbank’s co-owners is Yevgeny Dvoskin, a Russian-born financier who grew up in Brighton Beach at the same time as Sater. Dvoskin pleaded guilty to tax evasion in federal court in Ohio for the bootlegging scheme and spent time in prison. He was later deported to Russia, according to press accounts. In Russia, he remained tied to criminal networks, according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. (We were unable to reach Dvoskin for comment.)•  We also get a hint about why Trump may have needed the Kremlin to get his deal done. Some of the sites under consideration for a potential Trump Tower Moscow were in historic areas with strict height restrictions. Just a few years before the 2015 letter of intent that Trump signed, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin pledged to do all he could to prevent the city from being overrun by skyscrapers.If Trump’s deal was to move forward in some place like the Red October Chocolate Factory, one of the spots that was considered, getting around zoning restrictions would need help from the very top.Sater and Cohen were also kicking around a plan to offer Putin the building’s $50 million penthouse, according to BuzzFeed. That need for special help, combined with the potential offer of a valuable asset, raises questions about whether the plan ran afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to Alexandra Wrage, the president and founder of Trace International, an organization that helps companies comply with anti-bribery laws. “What you describe is certainly worrying,” she said.The Trump Organization, the White House, and Michael Cohen did not respond to requests for comment.For his part, Sater is scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on March 27. The committee members will undoubtedly have plenty of questions.You can contact us via Signal, WhatsApp or voicemail at 347-244-2134. Here’s more about how you can contact us securely.You can always email us at tips@trumpincpodcast.org.And finally, you can use the Postal Service:Trump, Inc. at ProPublica 155 Ave of the Americas, 13th Floor New York, NY 10013“Trump, Inc.” is a production of WNYC Studios and ProPublica. Support our work by visiting donate.propublica.org or by becoming a supporting member of WNYC. Subscribe here or wherever you get your podcasts.
Being investigative journalists means we’re constantly asking questions. But these days, it also means people are asking us questions. One we hear a lot nowadays: “When is the Mueller report coming — and what will it say?” Our answer: We don’t know. But we’ve realized that perhaps we can be more helpful than that. We don’t have insider information on special counsel Robert Mueller’s office. (Sorry!) But we have spent lots of time investigating the president and his businesses. And we thought we’d share some of the perspectives we’ve gained.Here are six things to keep in mind. Don’t predict.We don’t know what Mueller will report, when he will report it or even whether we’ll be able to read it. That’s because Congress changed the law after special prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s salacious tell-all on President Bill Clinton. When Mueller is done, he has to give a report to Attorney General William Barr. But Barr can choose to keep the report confidential. Barr only has to give a summary to Congress. If Barr doesn’t make Mueller’s actual report public, Democrats will almost surely subpoena it. Then get ready for a fight.Stop focusing on “collusion.”“Collusion” has come to be a kind of shorthand for ... basically doing something bad with Russia. But the term is both too vague and too narrow. For one thing, “collusion” is not itself a clearly defined crime. It is a crime to commit a conspiracy against the United States — for which there is a high bar: proving an intent to undermine the government.Remember: We already know a lot.We already know Trump had a hidden conflict of interest involving Russia during the campaign. Despite publicly denying it, Trump was negotiating to develop a tower in Moscow while he was running for president. That means Trump had interests involving Russia — which voters didn’t know about — that could have been influencing his policy positions. That’s all problematic on its own.  We also know that Russian government interests hacked the emails of the Democratic National Committee, handed them to Wikileaks, and that at least one Trump ally, Roger Stone, was in touch with Wikileaks.Don’t expect answers to everything, or even most things.That’s not Mueller’s job. He is a prosecutor. His job is first and foremost to look for crimes. And while he can, and has, looked beyond Russian interference in the election, he’s unlikely to dig into everything. And, of course, there are lots of areas worthy of scrutiny beyond Russia: Trump’s businesses, his inauguration, his hush money payments and more.Mueller is not alone.There are lots of active investigations looking into all these issues. A partial rundown of just the ones we know about: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating the inauguration and other matters, the New York attorney general is investigating the Trump Foundation, and the District of Columbia’s attorney general and the state of Virginia are suing Trump over emoluments. There are also a whole host of coming congressional investigations.The final judgments on Trump’s actions will be political, not legal. (Caveats apply.)  Whatever Mueller ultimately files, he is very unlikely to charge the president with a crime. Since Watergate, the Department of Justice has had a policy that a sitting president should not be indicted. And Mueller is a stickler for the rules. Having said that, Trump does face significant legal jeopardy. For example, former presidents can be indicted. So can Trump’s own company. So: Stay tuned. Stay patient. And while you wait for the report, check out our conversation with On The Media – they’ve created a handy “Breaking News Consumers’ Handbook Mueller Edition.”
For a year now, Trump, Inc. has been digging into the president’s business. We’ve reached out repeatedly to the Trump Organization with questions. Mostly, we haven’t gotten answers.  Yesterday was different.Michael Cohen worked for a decade as the president’s in-house attorney and fixer. In his testimony before the House Oversight Committee, he offered a detailed, insider account of alleged fraud, secrecy and cover-ups. In many cases, what he described connected to the very stories we’ve been digging into:-- How Cohen came to work for Trump.-- Evidence of possible wrongdoing by the Trump inaugural committee. (The District of Columbia’s attorney general just subpoenaed the Trump inaugural committee, citing issues we revealed.)-- How Trump often changed the value of his assets, sometimes to seem richer, sometimes to lower his taxes, like at his golf courses. Trump, Inc. hosts Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz sat down to review what we’ve learned and what it means for ongoing investigations into the president and his business. Dan Alexander from Forbes joined them.
This week, Trump, Inc. goes inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. Located in the Old Post Office, the hotel is at the center of three lawsuits alleging President Donald Trump is violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause barring the president from taking gifts from foreign governments. We stayed the night. Among the many prominent guests we saw: Nigerian presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and his entourage. Nigeria’s elections were last weekend, and Abubakar was the main challenger to the incumbent president out of a crowded field of candidates. After a tightly contested race, he came in second.Abubakar’s visit is surprising for several reasons. He had been reportedly barred from the U.S. for nearly 10 years for his alleged involvement in corruption while he was Nigeria’s vice president. Perhaps you remember the $90,000 in cash that was found in Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson’s freezer back in 2005? That was allegedly a bribe for Abubakar.A 2010 Senate report on foreign corruption dedicated an entire chapter to Abubakar and his wife. The report detailed their efforts to transfer $40 million in “suspect funds” into the U.S. through offshore accounts while Abubakar served as vice president.Abubakar has never been arrested or charged, either in the U.S. or Nigeria, and says he has never taken bribes. He has also called the reports of his immigration ban “misinformation.”Last year, Abubakar hired a lobbyist, Scott Mason, who was a former Trump campaign adviser. Disclosures filed by Mason show he lobbied Congress, the State Department and the National Security Council on “visa issues.”House of Representative lobbying disclosure for Scott Mason from Holland & Knight for Atiku Abubakar.(WNYC)Mason and his lobbying firm did not respond to requests for comment. Abubakar’s party also hired another firm close to Trump: Ballard Partners, run by Brian Ballard, former finance co-chairman for Trump’s campaign in Florida and a top Trump fundraiser. Years ago, he was Donald Trump’s lobbyist when he wanted to establish a casino in the Sunshine State. Now, he’s what Politico called “The Most Powerful Lobbyist in Trump’s Washington.”  Filings by the firm say only that it was working on “advocacy services relative to US-Nigeria bilateral relations.”James Rubin, a partner at the firm, said they were hired to work on “promoting free and fair elections” in Nigeria.The visa status of individuals is confidential, but Reuters has reported that the U.S. government temporarily suspended Abubakar’s visa ban after a push by the lobbyists.A spokesperson from the State Department declined to comment on Abubakar’s case. But the spokesperson said, “In cases where the secretary of state has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption … those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.” Abubakar isn’t the only foreign political figure to patronize the Trump International Hotel in Washington since the 2016 election; there’s a long list of others. Dignitaries from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia and Azerbaijan have all lodged at the Old Post Office. And this past year, the Trump Organization reported an increase in foreign profits to their hotels.
For a year, “Trump, Inc.” has been digging into the 2017 inauguration. That reporting led us to look closely at the man Donald Trump picked to run the event, Tom Barrack, a wealthy businessman who’s been friends with Trump for decades. As we were finishing our Barrack episode — just out this week — the House Oversight Committee released a report detailing how the Trump administration pursued a plan to export nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. The plan had been championed by then-national security adviser Michael Flynn, who could have profited from it. The efforts continued despite warnings from ethics officials and staff at the National Security Council.And who was in talks to lead the initiative? Tom Barrack.  The House investigation confirmed some reporting by one of our ProPublica colleagues, Isaac Arnsdorf, that goes back to late 2017. So we decided to bring Isaac in for this podcast extra to help us understand who was behind the plan and what they wanted. Barrack has declined our requests for an interview, and Flynn’s lawyer and the White House have not responded.
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Comments (102)

F L Gibson Jr

Mirror trades

May 23rd
Reply

GraWsA

aww I wanted someone to tell that last caller that the Mueller investigation actually made something like 52 million from Manafort, just to put to rest the last little bit of her argument.

Mar 28th
Reply

Nonya Bizness

i don't know if the podcast producers read these comments, but since you report that technically, the president can give his permission to for private entities to use (and profit from) the presidential seal, and that he has apparently given only one private entity, the trump org, that permission, i say we inundate the president with requests to use the seal. a bar, a barber shop, a band, birthday parties, bed and breakfast decor, etc... if the sole permission for AMERICA'S presidential seal to be used for profit by a private company goes to trump org, we have clear evidence that trump is, at minimum, using the office of the president to pillage the american people.

Mar 24th
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SMSimon

Phenomenal reporting here everyone. Thanks for breaking it down for us.

Feb 28th
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Luke Strain

This channel is trash.. pulling at straws and where the respect for office of the presidency??

Dec 16th
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Scott McWilliams

I appreciate your passion for finding the wrong doing of the current president. where was this podcast or info on the last president. government is corrupt on both sides.

Dec 9th
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Nonya Bizness

Scott McWilliams by your logic, if i rob wf bank, an institution has recent, documented corruption, no harm no foul, right?

Dec 25th
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Gee Whiz

Scott McWilliams Ah yes, there's that "both sides" tactic again—a favorite of the BLOTUS. Let's remember that only ONE SIDE murdered an American in Charlottesville on 12 August 2017. A list of Obama corruption would be LAUGHABLE when put beside a list of Trump corruption; keep in mind that Mr Trump has been associating with Russian oligarchs and other shadowy thugs for DECADES; apparently this is only a secret to Trump supporters.

Dec 14th
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Rich Berry

great work everyone! so enlightening. so depressing.

Sep 27th
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Minnich

For a year now, the news is dominated by what the president is doing, is tweeting, is saying. When will the media and capitol hill refocus on the important issues plaguing our country, and have since long before Trump? Quit giving a bully what he wants. He craves national attention. Stop giving it to him. He thrives on it. I agree that he is not fit to lead. I also believe that he will shoot himself in the foot. He will bring himself down. So, let's focus on the real issues. Let's hope, the country, being we the people, might have a real voice in Congress and not the voices of special interests. Our two party system is a failure to the general public. The working class has no real representation. Reality has won me over. Trump is an awful leader, and should not be allowed to continue, but we have so many other issues to fix. One man is keeping us from progress because HE controls the media coverage.

Aug 13th
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Michelle T Usher

I don't understand how come it is so hard to get government records? aside from them not sending them. you can still research agency spending per the USASPENDING.GOV WEBSITE. THEY HAVE CENSORED THE TRUMP FAMILY EXPENDITURES. BUT HE HAS LOTS OF CONTRACTS PAYMENTS FOR RENTALS, THRU Homeland Security. I mean the fact us tax dollars were used to bribe Guatamala to also move their embassy. BL HARBERT LLC HAS RECIEVED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS TO BUILD guatamala embassy in US. THEIR LEADER IS A DEVOUT EVANGELICAL.

Aug 6th
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BnB 44901

where have you gone?! been waiting super patiently!

Aug 1st
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Michael Haworth

Found out something extremely disturbing on Sunday. it appears that lobbyists for the baby formula industries have been funneling money to the Trump organization. This weekend a mandate went out from Trump that organizatios that deal with women and baby's both here and overseas are instructed to stop advising new mother's on the benefits of breast milk and instead telling them to start formula immediately after birth. I am a nurse and am appalled at this Revelation. Breast milk is absolutely essential to the health of a newborn. In the mother's breast milk is a substance called colostrum which hold all if the mother's natural antibodies the baby needs to develop a strong immune response. To advise new mother's to ignore this is not only immoral but devious and extremely unhealthy. To accept money to make baby's sickly is evil simply evil. No moral being on this earth would do this.

Jul 9th
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Marcee Beth

Michael Haworth , I was reading a few articles on that as well. Years ago, new Moms were offered a "free diaper bag" with a can of formula, coupons, advertisements, etc.. Breastfeeding wasn't encouraged or discouraged from my view as a patient. Jump 17 years, no diaper bags and nursing was encouraged. I saw this as a HUGE win even though I wouldn't be able to because I was taking a calcium channel blocker and had to restart topiramate ASAP for migraine prophylaxis. I worked in OB/GYN for 12 years. I miss it at times, other times, I'm glad I stepped away and have worked some great specialties, a bit of primary care and now in a 24/7 high acuity urgent care.

Jul 12th
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Loyal R

What you gonna do when President Donald J. Trump is awarded the Noble Prize? Take heart...there are psychotropic drugs that can help you overcome, or at least lessen your delusions.

May 14th
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Z

Loyal R What’s the Noble prize? Do you get that for being a whiny overgrown child who can’t even run an inherited business without relying on money laundering schemes to stay afloat?

Jul 22nd
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Pieter Moreels

Loyal R hahahahahaha best joke ever!! 😂😂

Jul 16th
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Ryan O

this is to the producers, examine the land records and deeds filed and the LLCs involved with in Albemarle County, Virginia. This is when he purchased Trump wineries. I grew up right next to this Winery and I'm also a real estate paralegal so I can tell you anything and everything you want to know and I'm telling you now nothing involving this sale is on the up-and-up or is it clear cut like all other large over 5 million dollar sales in this area

May 11th
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Victoria Green

excellent reporting! keep up the good work

May 7th
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shon driggers

Drain The Swamp!!!

Apr 23rd
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Michael Haworth

Check to see if trump or anyone close to him has set up a qualified intermediary! Its a way real restate companies can hide money not pay taxes on it and use it secretly. There is zero federal regulations on this type of company. I am positive he has set one up to launder money. Michael Haworth hawortha22@gmail.com

Apr 22nd
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Cullen Logan

Dave Minnich Unfortunately our constitution precludes private citizens from suing a sitting president. So long as he is president only impeachment can touch him. Fortunately the same constitution prevents pardoning of anyone that has been impeached. I cling to faith in our 3 branched checks and balances for now. I just don't know if impeachment would give us any relief. I have very little faith in our VP, and his inability to separate his personal church from the politics of state.

Aug 17th
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Dave Minnich

Michael Haworth Now, this is a constructive point. We need constructive discussion. Acts such as cheating people should be viewed as theft. It doesn't matter how rich one is, what position one holds, wrong is wrong. Those who commit crimes deserve to be held to the same standard of punishment, regardless of wealth or class or any other box humans wish to place one another in to.

Apr 24th
Reply

Telle0

Good quality , I love these truth-seeking investigative journalism podcasts. Trump sycophants may want to plug their ears.

Apr 20th
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Rick Arden

FOUR MORE YEARS!

Apr 11th
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John Wiley

I'm really enjoying this podcast. I hope you dig up enough dirt on him.

Apr 1st
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Dave Minnich

I won't pretend that Donald Trump is a positive role model, or a nice guy, but he is the President and as such deserves an amount of respect. Podcasts like this one only further the divisions in our country. Unsubscribing.

Mar 29th
Reply

Minnich

Phil France Phil, the comment you are responding to was made when I was still on the fence about how people approach politics. If you read through the thread, you will conclude that I have been won over by the conversation induced by this podcast. The problem is, I've concluded that our government is broken and corrupt. Therefore, I believe all politicians to have their own interest at heart rather than that of the people.

Jan 6th
Reply

Phil France

Dave Minnich , dissenting voices are incredibly important. Especially when the people in power seem to be abusing that power. We need more investigative journalists tackling powerful figures, not fewer.

Jan 6th
Reply
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