Some New Year’s Reading (Trigger Warning: It’s About Current Occupant of White House)

“Trump is not much different than most of the NY real estate developers. Obnoxious, liar, screws people, impossible to trust, etc.”

If your brain can handle more background on the perpetrator of multiple business failures who occasionally spends time in the Oval Office, Foreign Policy magazine – not known as a left-wing propaganda organ  – has published a well-researched and dispassionate overview of business dealings with Russia.

A couple fun quotes:

“I think part of it was he was toxic to the banks. I think he also probably learned that personal guarantees [on loans] weren’t a brilliant idea either. So he was saying to himself, ‘What else could I do in the world? I’ll just convince people to buy my brand.’ And the only people who were willing to buy it were tasteless Russians, people who like the absurd, ostentatious gold-leaf lifestyle he has.”

 – former business associate

“Trump is not much different than most of the NY real estate developers. Obnoxious, liar, screws people, impossible to trust, etc, but in NY real estate–not unusual. None of any of that is proof of anything other than Trump was considered a bad guy who nobody trusted to do business with in the US banking world. That is far from any proof he did anything wrong as to collusion which there was none.”

-Joel Ross, investment banker

Read the whole article here.

Bonus Reading: a couple deep dives from The New Yorker – well-known for its fact checking:

Donald Trump’s Worst Deal

“The President helped build a hotel in Azerbaijan that appears to be a corrupt operation engineered by oligarchs tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.”

Trump, Putin and the New Cold War

“What lay behind Russia’s interference in the 2016 election—and what lies ahead?”

Happy New Year!

The Self-Declared Self-Made Billionaire

Having lived for a couple decades in Sonoma wine country, I’m familiar with the old riddle:

How do you make a small fortune in the wine business?

You start with a large fortune.

I’ve since learned that a version of this joke is also passed around among farmers and ranchers in Texas.

The failing New York Times took a deep dive into how the current occupant of the White House made his fortune. John Cassidy summarized the report in The New Yorker magazine and concluded:

He is a shameless flim-flam man with practically no regard for the truth or the quaint notion that wealthy people like him have a civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes.

The Times even used the F-word.








Beginning of Trump’s End?

Veteran reporter Adam Davidson sees similarities with the Iraq invasion, the 2008 financial meltdown and the Trump presidency. The New Yorker published this just before the Sean Hannity news.

“I am unaware of anybody who has taken a serious look at Trump’s business who doesn’t believe that there is a high likelihood of rampant criminality. In Azerbaijan, he did business with a likely money launderer for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In the Republic of Georgia, he partnered with a group that was being investigated for a possible role in the largest known bank-fraud and money-laundering case in history. In Indonesia, his development partner is “knee-deep in dirty politics”; there are criminal investigations of his deals in Brazil; the F.B.I. is reportedly looking into his daughter Ivanka’s role in the Trump hotel in Vancouver, for which she worked with a Malaysian family that has admitted to financial fraud. Back home, Donald, Jr., and Ivanka were investigated for financial crimes associated with the Trump hotel in SoHo—an investigation that was halted suspiciously. His Taj Mahal casino received what was then the largest fine in history for money-laundering violations.”

Read the whole thing here.