Finally, they are following the money!

Robert Maynard

The old saying “follow the money” has taken on new meaning as Senate investigators of possible Russian influence on the U.S. election have finally started looking into Donald Trump’s decades-long financial deals with Russian business interests. CNBC reported on this development  a few days ago:

The Senate panel has requested information about President Donald Trump and his top aides from a financial intelligence unit in the Treasury Department that imposed a $10 million civil penalty on Trump Taj Mahal in 2015 for multiple violations of money-laundering laws.

The Senate Intelligence Committee wants to see any information relevant to its Russia investigation the Treasury agency has gathered, including evidence that might include possible money laundering, according to a committee aide who spoke on condition of anonymity. Also at issue: to what extent, if at all, people close to Vladimir Putin have invested in Trump’s real estate empire.

This is an angle that TNR reported on back during the election. Now, a Dutch media outlet named Zembla has produced the first in a series of a documentaries looking into Donald Trump’s financial ties.  

Here is how the film describes its effort:

For months, the FBI has been investigating Russian interference in the American presidential elections.  Zembla is investigating another explosive dossier concerning Trump’s involvement with the Russians: Trump’s business and personal ties to oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. Powerful billionaires suspected of money laundering and fraud, and of having contacts in Moscow and with the mafia. What do these relationships say about Trump and why does he deny them? How compromising are these dubious business relationships for the 45th president of the United States? And are there connections with the Netherlands? Zembla meets with one of Trump’s controversial cronies and speaks with a former CIA agent, fraud investigators, attorneys, and an American senator, among others.

The story they tell is one of a confluence of influence between a cash strapped Donald Trump and Russian oligarchs  seeking to launder dirty money. The 1990s saw the rise of Putin and the Russian oligarchs in the ashes of Russian democracy.  It also saw Donald Trump go file for bankruptcy six times and made it hard for him to attrack investment cash from conventional financial sources.  It is a win win relationship from both the Russian oligarchs and Trump.  He gets a steady cash from enabling him to maintain his lavish lifestyle and keep up the image of ebing an extrememly successful businessman and they get a willing partner who will laundert their dirty money.  Putin gets to expand the reach of the Russian “Mafia State.”  Putting Donald Trump in the office of the U.S. Presidency is the natural culmination of this expansion.