M.N.: The Abwehr gave them (to the Trump and Kushner families) the robbed in WW2 money, for the investments in US Real Estate and for the safekeeping; and the New Abwehr took these money away from them in this brilliantly conceived, planned, and executed "OPERATION TRUMP" | Sberbank and Mueller's Investigation of Trump

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M.N.: The Abwehr gave them (to the Trump and Kushner families) the robbed in WW2 money, for the investments in US Real Estate and for the safekeeping; and the New Abwehr took these money away from them in this brilliantly conceived, planned, and executed "OPERATION TRUMP". 
Deutsche Bank apparently bought all Trump's debt (about 3,5B) at a discount from the other banks and continued to lend him more (as a result of the Trump's blackmail), up to about 1B. And then apparently, as reported, Deutsche Bank sold Trump's debt to the Russian Sberbank, which might be Deutsche's actual branch or subsidiary or very close partner. A similar situation with the Kushner's family debt and the Russian VEBank-Gorshkov, probably  somewhere in the range of 1-3B. 
So, now these two sanctioned Russian banks are in the position to collect about 5-6B in the US Real Estate, nominally owned by the POTUS and his family (und ziz iz zi most piquant point, of course). Sberbank is likely the foreign entity which lost the Supreme Court bid and is hit with $50,000 daily penalties for refusing to comply with the Mueller's subpoena, which probably aims to look into this issue. 

All of the above are the entirely hypothetical interpretations, but it might explain the situation (it does help to look for money as the real engine and culprit), and this "Debt Collection Hypothesis by the New Abwehr" should be vigorously investigated. 

Abwehr giveth and the New Abwehr taketh away, in due time and with the proper interest accrued. 

The Smart Seagull lifts and drops red and pinky crabs, their tiny legs beating rhythmically, to and from the skies; and consumes fresh and delicious crabmeat for lunch, as the result of her Canarisian labors. 

But above and beyond any commercial considerations, the New Abwehr, in its Operation Trump (or the "Russland Affare", in German Interpretation), achieved its traditional historical Geopolitical goals: to drive the wedges between the US and Russia (and now between the US and Israel also), inciting the war between them, to enhance Germany's standing (via creeping Revanche) in the world affairs (read Merkel's New Year speech), especially (as she emphasized it) in the year of Germany's membership in the Security Council, and of course for the propaganda purposes, with the incredible daring and panache, which is the Abwehr's, and now the New Abwehr's signature style. 

Michael Novakhov 

5:46 AM 1/21/2019

Jan 1, 2019
Merkel targets Trump in New Year speech and vows to 'stand up and FIGHT' ... to take a more robust stance ...

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Sberbank and Mueller's investigation of Trump

Dec 28, 2018 - But perhaps overshadowing them all is special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigationinto Russian interference in the 2016 US election, and links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. ... But the broadest possible question about what the next year might hold in store for Mueller...
Missing: sberbank ‎| ‎Must include: ‎sberbank
3 days ago - Michael Cohen's guilty plea in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation last November threatens to unveil an explosive possible reason ...
Missing: sberbank ‎| ‎Must include: ‎sberbank
May 13, 2018 - Ross's labyrinth of Russian bank ties may have paid off Trump's five ... Is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Jr. in special counsel Robert Mueller's sights? ... The Bank of Cyprus has extensive dealings with Sberbank and is widely seen as ... is currently under FBI investigation for Russian money laundering.
Sep 20, 2018 - In the months before the 2016 elections, Manafort, then Trump's ... 14 to charges stemming from the Mueller investigation, Manafort agreed to ..... The state's largest lender,Sberbank, even agreed to finance around 70% of the ...
Dec 29, 2017 - The fed-up reproving parent was Deutsche Bank, Trump's New York creditor. .... Robert Mueller, the Justice Department's special counsel, in Washington in June. ... from Deutsche Bank Moscow in companies like Gazprom or Sberbank. ... of the Justice Department's ongoinginvestigation into mirror trades?
Jul 20, 2017 - Mueller expands probe to Trump's business transactions ... The U.S. special counselinvestigating possible ties between the ... At the event, Trump met Herman Gref, chief executive of Russia's biggest bank, Sberbank PJSC.

Jul 20, 2017 - The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trumpcampaign and Russia in last year's election is examining a ...
Dec 21, 2017 - Mueller Demands Trump Bank Details From Deutsche Bank ... The special counsel isinvestigating Russian interference—from the hacking of .... stocks from Deutsche Bank Moscow in companies like Gazprom or Sberbank.
Nov 2, 2017 - What's clear, reviewing the facts, is that Trump's claim he had “nothing to ... As theMueller investigation accelerated this week with the indictment of .... The co-host was Herman Gref, the chief executive of Sberbank, Russia's ...
Aug 28, 2017 - Meet the Russian developer Trump tapped for Moscow tower. IC Expert has ... At the time he was hired by Sberbank, Kasowitz was also working for Trump on matters related to RobertMueller's Russia investigation.
Mar 13, 2018 - President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the ... includingSberbank, the bank that was going to finance the [Trump Tower] operation. ..... he's become a cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation.
Jul 12, 2017 - Since Donald Trump's election as president in November, the eldest son of the ... Those are now being looked at by Robert Mueller, the special counsel ... to expose corruption — and aninvestigation by opposition leader Alexei ... ally of Mr Putin's who is chief executive of Sberbank, Crocus' largest creditor.
Jul 20, 2017 - Meanwhile, Robert Mueller is quietly assembling a dream team of lawyers. ... the president in the ongoing investigation into whether the Trump campaign ... Two of the individuals involved in the Sberbank case, according to a ...
Dec 21, 2017 - Representatives attended meeting with Trump campaign officials. Mueller GivesTrump the Silent Treatment. SHARE THIS ARTICLE. Share.
Dec 5, 2017 - Trump lawyer: Deutsche Bank has not received subpoena for Trump records. Muelleris investigating alleged Russian attempts to influence the election, ... one been received,” responded a representative of Sberbank (SBER.
Dec 5, 2017 - Photo: Donald Trump and Deutsche Bank have not always been on good terms. ... MrMueller is investigating alleged Russian attempts to influence the ... A Sberbank representative said: "We would not comment on the ...
William Felix Browder (born 23 April 1964) is an American-born British financier and economist. .... Theinvestigation was to focus on whether Browder violated any Russian laws when Hermitage used Russian ... commissioned former MI6 staffer Christopher Steele to collect information on DonaldTrump's ties with Russia.

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33432. the special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia scandal, ... Mueller Subpoenas Deutsche Bank For Trump's Bank Records As His Russia ..... details for making copies of documents issued bySberbank of Russia OJSC to the ...

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Explanations for Kushner’s meeting with head of Kremlin-linked bank don’t match up - The Washington Post

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Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret channel with Kremlin
(Alice Li,McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)
Why did Jared Kushner ask to set up a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin? 
June 1, 2017
 The White House and a Russian state-owned bank have very different explanations for why the bank’s chief executive and Jared Kushner held a secret meeting during the presidential transition in December.
The bank maintained this week that the session was held as part of a new business strategy and was conducted with Kushner in his role as the head of his family’s real estate business. The White House says the meeting was unrelated to business and was one of many diplomatic encounters the soon-to-be presidential adviser was holding ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The contradiction is deepening confusion over Kushner’s interactions with the Russians as the president’s son-in-law emerges as a key figure in the FBI’s investigation into potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump team.
The discrepancy has thrust Vnesheconombank, known for advancing the strategic interests of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin and for its role in a past U.S. espionage case, into the center of the controversy enveloping the White House. And it has highlighted the role played by the bank’s 48-year-old chief executive, Sergey Gorkov, a graduate of the academy of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the domestic intelligence arm of the former Soviet KGB, who was appointed by Putin to the post less than a year before his encounter with Kushner.
Untangling the web of Jared Kushner
(Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)
Either account of the meeting could bring complications for a White House undergoing intensifying scrutiny from a special counsel and multiple congressional committees.
A diplomatic meeting would have provided the bank, which has been under U.S. sanctions since 2014, a chance to press for rolling back the penalties even as the Obama administration was weighing additional retaliations against Moscow for Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.
A business meeting between an international development bank and a real estate executive, coming as Kushner’s company had been seeking financing for its troubled $1.8 billion purchase of an office building on Fifth Avenue in New York, could raise questions about whether Kushner’s personal financial interests were colliding with his impending role as a public official.
VEB, as Vnesheconombank is known, did not respond to a list of questions about the Kushner meeting and the institution’s history and role in Russia. The bank declined to make Gorkov available for an interview.
Gorkov could draw new attention to the clashing story lines Friday, when he is scheduled to deliver public remarks to an economic conference in St. Petersburg. Gorkov, cornered Wednesday by a CNN reporter on the sidelines of the conference, responded “no comments” three times when asked about the Kushner meeting.
The Kushner-Gorkov meeting came after Kushner met with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, in early December. At the meeting, Kushner suggested establishing a secure communications line between Trump officials and the Kremlin at a Russian diplomatic facility, according to U.S. officials who reviewed intelligence reports describing Kislyak’s account.
President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Vnesheconombank Chairman Sergey Gorkov at the Kremlin in August. (Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik via AP)
The bank and the White House have declined to provide the exact date or location of the Kushner-Gorkov meeting, which was first reported in March by the New York Times.
Flight data reviewed by The Washington Post suggests that the meeting may have taken place on Dec. 13 or 14, about two weeks after Kushner’s encounter with Kislyak.
A 19-seat twin-engine jet owned by a company linked to VEB flew from Moscow to the United States on Dec. 13 and departed from the Newark airport, outside New York City, at 5:01 p.m. Dec. 14, according to positional flight information provided by FlightAware, a company that tracks airplanes.
The Post could not confirm whether Gorkov was on the flight, but the plane’s previous flights closely mirror Gorkov’s publicly known travels in recent months, including his trip to St. Petersburg this week.
After leaving Newark on Dec. 14, the jet headed to Japan, where Putin was visiting on Dec. 15 and 16. The news media had reported that Gorkov would join the Russian president there.
White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks and Kushner’s attorney said Kushner intends to share with investigators the details of his meeting with Gorkov.
“Mr. Kushner was acting in his capacity as a transition official and had many similar discussions with foreign representatives after the election,” Hicks told The Post in a statement this week. “For example, he also started conversations with leaders from Saudi Arabia that led to the President’s recent successful international trip.”
The bank this week told The Post that it stood by a statement it issued in March that, as part of its new investment strategy, it had held meetings with “leading world financial institutions in Europe, Asia and America, as well as with the head of Kushner Companies.”
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the bank’s activities “have nothing to do with the Kremlin.” Peskov, like Trump, has frequently dismissed revelations about the meetings as “fake news” and “a witch hunt.”
Officially, VEB is Russia’s state economic development bank, set up to make domestic and foreign investments that will boost the Russian economy.
Practically speaking, according to experts, the bank functions as an arm of the Kremlin, boosting Putin’s political priorities.
It funded the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a project used by Putin to signal that Russia holds a key role on the world stage.
VEB has also been used to promote the Kremlin’s strategic aims abroad, experts say, financing projects across the Eastern bloc.
“Basically, VEB operates like Putin’s slush fund,” said Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Center and a Russia expert who follows the bank’s activities. “It carries out major Kremlin operations that Putin does not want to do through the state budget.”
Before the United States imposed sanctions, VEB sought to extend its international reach to draw more investment to Russia. Among those named by the bank to an advisory board for a new global fund was Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the Blackstone Group and now an outside adviser to the Trump White House. Schwarzman declined to comment through a spokeswoman, who said the fund’s advisory board has been inactive.
Gorkov was named to head VEB in February 2016, after eight years as a senior manager at Russia’s largest state-owned bank, Sberbank. While Gorkov was a deputy head of Sberbank, it was one of the sponsors of the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow produced by Trump, who owned the pageant.
Gorkov’s personal relationship with Putin is unclear.
Some Russia watchers described Gorkov, who was not seen as being especially close to the Kremlin before his appointment, as an unlikely diplomatic link between the Kremlin and the Trump administration.
“I can think of many back channels that one might cultivate to have close, discreet, indirect communications with Putin. VEB’s Gorkov would not make my list,” said Michael McFaul, who was the U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama.
Other observers suggested that Gorkov, the recipient of a “service to the Fatherland” medal, may have earned Putin’s trust as a discreet go-between.
“He indeed is an FSB academy graduate, and for the Kremlin today it is a sign of trustworthiness,” said Andrey Movchan, who heads the economic program at the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank.
VEB has played a role in Russian espionage efforts in the past, serving as the cover for a Russian operative convicted last year of spying in New York.
According to court documents, Evgeny Buryakov posed as the second-in-command at the bank’s Manhattan office for at least three years while secretly meeting dozens of times with a Russian intelligence officer who tasked him with gathering intelligence on the U.S. economic system.
The court records show that Buryakov’s handlers were also recorded discussing attempts to recruit an American whom government officials have confirmed was Carter Page, an energy consultant who later served as an informal adviser to Trump’s campaign. Page has said he assisted the FBI with its investigation into the spy ring and provided the Russians no sensitive information.
The court documents show that the FBI recorded a conversation in which one of Buryakov’s handlers described hearing an intelligence officer tell Buryakov’s VEB boss that Buryakov worked for a Russian intelligence service.
VEB paid for Buryakov’s legal fees after his arrest, the court documents show. The Russian Foreign Ministry at the time blasted the charges and accused the U.S. government of “building up spy hysteria.”
Buryakov was sentenced to 30 months in prison but was released in April for good behavior. He was immediately deported to Moscow. Efforts by The Post to reach Buryakov through family members were unsuccessful.
VEB, along with other Russian state-owned institutions, has suffered financially since 2014, when the United States imposed economic sanctions following Russia’s incursion into Crimea.
Gorkov’s meeting with Kushner took place at a time of major changes within the bank.
On Dec. 21, VEB announced that its proposed 2021 development strategy — which Gorkov dubbed “VEB 2.0” — had been approved by its supervisory board, which is chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
As a result of the sanctions, U.S. companies are prohibited from lending the bank money or buying equity in the institution, an attempt to drain resources from the Russian economy.
The sanctions would not prohibit Kushner from conducting a business negotiation with VEB or even prevent the Russian bank from investing in a U.S. firm.
Experts on Russia’s security services said that it would have been unlikely for Gorkov to meet with Kushner and not discuss sanctions.
Gennady Gudkov, a reserve colonel in the FSB who is now a leader of a small opposition party, said that Russian business leaders are looking for ways to lobby for the softening of sanctions. “This activity is constant,” Gudkov said in an interview. “They are trying however they can, even informally, to lower the sanctions.”
In late December, Gorkov told Russian state television that he hoped “the situation with sanctions will change for the better.”
In February, Gorkov met with Putin to update him on the bank’s status. “We are confident of its future,” he told the Russian leader, according to a transcript released by Putin’s office, asserting the bank had many new deals in the works.
“Good,” Putin said.
Brittain, Helderman and Hamburger reported from Washington. Natalya Abbakumova in Moscow and Alice Crites in Washington contributed to this report.
Read the whole story

· · · · · · · · · · · · ·

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Sergei who? Why investigators are concerned Jared Kushner met with ...
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Sergei who? Why investigators are concerned Jared Kushner met with Sergei Gorkov | #follownews

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Jared Kushner Russia | Vnesheconombank | Sergey Gorkov
The Real Deal
... U.S. House of Representatives are looking into whether Jared Kushner's December meeting with Sergey Gorkov, chairman of the sanctioned Vnesheconombank, ...

Why Commerce Secretary Ross and his Russian ties may be next in Mueller's investigation - Google Search

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Why Commerce Secretary Ross and his Russian ties may be next in Mueller's investigation

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Is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Jr. in special counsel Robert Mueller's sights?
Ross has local ties, born and raised in Weehawken. His mother graduated valedictorian from Sacred Heart Academy in Hoboken and taught third grade in North Bergen for 40 years. His father was a judge and served as commissioner of finance in North Bergen. Though mostly under the radar among the Trump chaos, Ross has found himself in the news recently, thanks to President Donald Trump's insistence on trade standoffs.
That media footprint may now change. Ross's labyrinth of Russian bank ties may have paid off Trump's five bankruptcies when no U.S. bank would. Many have asked how Ross was named secretary of commerce, seemingly out of nowhere.
Stormy Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, has just reported, and the New York Times and NBC among others have confirmed, documents showing payments to Daniels right before the election through the Russian-sanctioned bank of Cyprus, where Ross had a controlling interest and was its head.
On a "Morning Joe" show segment last month, Joe Scarborough asked: "What does Vladimir Putin have over Donald Trump? You have to look at the finances. Maybe it goes though Cyprus where Wilbur Ross had a bank." CNN's Jake Tapper also asked Ross about his role with the bank.
It isn't surprising by now that elements of quid pro quo were at work when forming the nascent Trump administration back in 2016.
So how much does it cost to get a seat at the table in the Trump administration?
If you had connections to Trump's ballooning casino empire in the early 1990s, that number could be around $675 million. That's the figure Trump paid for the Taj Mahal in 1990, with a 14 percent interest rate. Rothschild bankruptcy division was then headed by Ross and specialized in distressed asset management. No assets were more distressed than Trump's Atlantic City casino empire. Ross swept in, representing the bondholders and getting Trump to give up a 50 percent stake while allowing him to remain in charge of the casinos with better interest rates. Trump ended his bankruptcy.
Even though the casinos went bankrupt twice more, Trump didn't forget the favor. When it came time to pick a commerce secretary, he chose Ross, paying him for saving his skin back in Atlantic City. "This guy knows how to make money, folks," Trump said.
After his career as a venture capitalist (sometimes a corporate raider), Ross got into private equity in 2000 and continued to invest in a variety of business interests. Navigator Holdings, in which Ross' investment firm holds a 31 percent stake, does business with Russian energy giant Sibur.
One of its major shareholders is the owner of a U.S. and E.U. sanction list company (for helping Russia invade Ukraine), Eastern Europe's biggest bank, Sberbank, the Russian state-owned bank based in Moscow. Ross conveniently forgot to disclose this information in his confirmation hearings. Russian President Vladimir Putin's son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, along with other members of his inner circle, is also a primary shareholder in Sibur.
"When you start doing business with Russian energy companies like Gazprom and Sibur, you're ... getting into bed with the Russian state," Amos Hochstein, a top energy diplomat in the Obama administration, told the New York Times.
Several of Sberbank's chairmen were people with direct links to Putin, including Putin's son-in-law. In 2015, while Ross served as vice chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, the bank's Russia-based businesses were sold to a Russian banker and consultant, Artem Avetsayan, who Putin had appointed to lead an agency building businesses with Russian connections.
Equally concerning is Ross' vice presidency of the Bank of Cyprus, which he only resigned from after his confirmation to the Cabinet in March 2017. The Bank of Cyprus has extensive dealings with Sberbank and is widely seen as a financial haven for Russian oligarchs. A subsidiary, the now-defunct Federal Bank of the Middle East, is currently under FBI investigation for Russian money laundering.
Incidentally, Ross was a registered Democrat until 2016, proving that unseemly dealings with Russia are not a partisan issue, but a national security one.
Former Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann was chairman of the Bank of Cyprus at this time. Deutsche Bank, which recently had to pay $10 billion after being found guilty of money-laundering for Russian oligarchs, has loaned Trump a staggering $3.5 billion since 1998 to pay off his other bankruptcies.
During Ross' few public appearances in the White House briefing room, including one in April 2017 regarding lumber trade with Canada, the press corps has neglected to press him on these troubling allegations. Other than Rachel Maddow and Scarborough on MSNBC, and Tapper on CNN, there has been little other coverage to date.
Ross will be speaking at the National Press Club on Monday. He may have some explaining to do there, as well as to Mueller.

Robert Weiner, A Paterson native, is a former spokesman for the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
Kyle Fleck is analyst for Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.
Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find <a href="http://NJ.com" rel="nofollow">NJ.com</a> Opinion on Facebook.
Read the whole story

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How Putin's Oligarchs Got Inside the Trump Team | Time

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Putin relies on Russia’s richest men to project power. From left: ViktorVekselberg, Oleg Deripaska, Evgeny Prigozhin and Aras Agalarov. Paul Manafort, center, worked for Deripaska.

Putin relies on Russia’s richest men to project power. From left: ViktorVekselberg, Oleg Deripaska, Evgeny Prigozhin and Aras Agalarov. Paul Manafort, center, worked for Deripaska.
Photo-illustration by John Ritter for TIME; Kremlin, Manafort: Shutterstock; Putin, Vekselberg, Deripaska: Getty Images; Prigozhin, Agalarov: Reuters
By Simon Shuster
September 20, 2018
The message from Moscow reached Paul Manafort at a crucial moment in the U.S. presidential race, just as he was about to secure the official Republican nomination for his client, Donald Trump. Manafort’s overture had been received, the July 2016 message informed him. And Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, would be back in touch soon.
In the months before the 2016 elections, Manafort, then Trump’s campaign chairman, had tried repeatedly to reach out to Deripaska through intermediaries, according to emails revealed last year by the Washington Post and the Atlantic. The two men’s relationship went back a decade; Manafort had worked as a political consultant for Deripaska’s business interests in Eastern Europe in the mid-2000s.
The messages used coded language–apparent references to money, for instance, were sometimes rendered as “black caviar.” But the aim of the exchange seems clear. Manafort wanted to offer “private briefings” about the Trump campaign to one of Russia’s wealthiest men.
That offer has since come under the scrutiny of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential race. His investigators want to know whether the Trump campaign had a secret back channel to the Kremlin, and Manafort has agreed to help them answer that question. As part of his guilty plea on Sept. 14 to charges stemming from the Mueller investigation, Manafort agreed to cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” with the special counsel.

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          Already Mueller’s probe has shown the range of assets Putin brought to bear on the 2016 campaign. Russian hackers stole and leaked the private emails of Trump’s opponents and worked to polarize and enrage voters by manipulating social media, according to evidence made public by Mueller. Russian diplomats wooed Trump’s advisers, who were eager for information that could hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances.
          But it is oligarchs like Deripaska, wielding extraordinary wealth and global connections, who may have played the most important role in the Russian influence campaign. Putin himself has suggested as much. Onstage with Trump at a press conference in Helsinki on July 16, the Russian leader said he “can imagine” private Russian businessmen supported Trump’s bid for the presidency. “And so what?” Putin demanded. “They don’t represent the Russian state.”
          In fact, their ties to the state are a lot closer than Putin let on. From the very beginning of his 19 years in power, the Russian President has turned his country’s wealthiest men into a loose but loyal band of operatives. In exchange for lucrative deals with the government, or simply protection from the authorities, these billionaires have gathered contacts at the highest levels of U.S. politics, high enough to influence policy in the service of the Russian state. “These are cats that like to bring dead mice to the Kremlin,” says Mark Galeotti, a leading expert in Putin’s influence operations at the Prague-based Institute of International Relations.
          And in the Trumps, the oligarchs found plump targets. One Russian billionaire hosted Ivanka Trump and her husband, the President’s senior adviser, Jared Kushner, at a gala in Moscow in 2014. Another has links to a $500,000 payment to Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen in 2017. A third ran a propaganda operation that pumped pro-Trump content into the news feeds of millions of American voters. In the heat of the presidential race, a fourth tycoon arranged the meeting where a Russian lawyer offered dirt on Clinton to Trump’s closest aides. And then of course there was Deripaska, whose years of fishing for friends in Washington eventually got the chairman of a presidential campaign on the line.
          The U.S. has begun to hit back. In February, the Justice Department indicted one oligarch, Evgeny Prigozhin, for his role in the 2016 social-media-influence operation. In April, the Treasury Department sanctioned two others, Deripaska and investor Viktor Vekselberg, freezing their assets and limiting their travel, in retaliation for their work for Putin.
          The oligarchs say they are doing nothing wrong in advancing Russia’s interests at home and abroad. Reviews of legal records and interviews with oligarchs and their associates in Russia and the West show just how far they have gone. They also show how deeply they penetrated the 2016 U.S. presidential contest, and the campaign of Donald Trump.
          On a warm day in 2000, during the first months of his tenure as President, Putin arranged to meet his country’s richest men at a barbecue on the edge of Moscow. The gathering had not been his idea. One of the bankers closest to the Kremlin had suggested it, hoping it would allay their concerns about Russia’s new leader. “He was a black box,” recalls Sergei Pugachev, the financier behind the meeting, who was once known as the Kremlin’s Banker. “No one knew what was inside.”
          Many of the oligarchs assumed in those days that Putin would be a pushover. With no power base in Moscow, the young KGB veteran from St. Petersburg seemed incapable of challenging their hold over the government, the media and much of the economy. Entire industries had been auctioned off to these men during Russia’s transition to capitalism in the 1990s, often in exchange for loans to save the state from bankruptcy. Some of them had urged President Boris Yeltsin to choose Putin as his successor. They assumed the new President would be at least as pliable as the old one.
          Putin was quick to correct them. In choosing a venue for the meeting, he decided against the Kremlin, the normal spot for such a conclave. Instead he chose to send a more pointed message. “The meeting was at Stalin’s dacha,” Pugachev recalls. “That was very symbolic.”
          Hidden among thick forests on the western outskirts of the city, the estate in Kuntsevo was the home of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin for two decades before his death in 1953. It was also the place where Stalin drew up lists of enemies among Russia’s political and economic elites, who were sent to their deaths in Siberia and elsewhere by the untold thousands in what became known as the Great Purge. The tyrant’s old office, right down to his desk and the couch where he used to take naps, was still preserved at Kuntsevo when the oligarchs pulled up to the gates for their meeting with Putin. In the presence of these memento mori, no one challenged the young President with any difficult questions, says Pugachev. “It’s enough that he let us leave,” he recalls one of the guests saying afterward.
          Not all of them were so easily intimidated. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil mogul with political ambitions of his own, understood the new rules that Putin was trying to enforce. “He wanted us to understand that we, as big businessmen, may have some power,” he tells TIME. “But it is nothing compared to his power as the head of state.” Khodorkovsky did not take that message to heart. After publicly clashing with Putin and his loyalists, he was arrested on charges of tax evasion in 2003 and subjected to a trial criticized by human-rights activists as a settling of scores. He wound up serving 10 years in prison.
          The lesson to the oligarchs was clear. Their fortunes could stand or fall on Putin’s whim, and most accepted the need to do favors for the Kremlin as part of the cost of doing business. “If the state says we need to give it up, we’ll give it up,” Deripaska said of his own business empire during an interview with the Financial Times in 2007. In a remark that would come to define the position of the oligarchs in Putin’s Russia, he added, “I don’t separate myself from the state. I have no other interests.”
          The oligarchs stuck to their specialties. Some focused on banking and finance, others on mining and energy. And they paid their dues to the state in different ways.
          Aras Agalarov, a flashy real estate tycoon with a taste for mafia movies–his family once filmed a remake of The Godfather for his birthday with him in the starring role–was known for accepting construction projects that might endear him to Putin. When the President decided that he wanted to host a summit in 2012 on a deserted island at Russia’s eastern edge, Agalarov spent $100 million of his own money building a vast white-elephant campus for the event, with new roads and infrastructure. Putin was pleased. “Your contribution to our country’s development cannot be measured in money,” the President said after pinning the Order of Honor to the mogul’s chest in 2013.
          Another of Putin’s favorite businessmen has taken a more active role in Russia’s foreign adventures. Convicted of fraud and other crimes in the Soviet Union, Prigozhin found lawful success in the late 1990s with a St. Petersburg restaurant called New Island, where Putin would often dine with friends and foreign dignitaries. He won catering contracts with the Kremlin and the Russian army, earning him the nickname “Putin’s chef”–which has stuck despite Prigozhin’s moves into other industries.
          In 2015, he emerged as a key player in Russia’s military campaigns in Ukraine and Syria. Documents and legal records published in the Russian press have linked his companies to the Wagner Group, a private military outfit that has sent fighters into both conflicts, often taking on missions that seemed too dangerous, or sensitive, for regular Russian troops. Prigozhin also bankrolled the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm that blasted out Kremlin propaganda through hundreds of fake social-media accounts, according to the U.S. charges unveiled against him earlier this year. Asked about these ventures, his spokesperson replied that Prigozhin does not speak to reporters “on principle.”
          The more subtle and sensitive work of cultivating influence among power brokers in the U.S. and Western Europe generally goes to Russia’s wealthiest tycoons. Prominent among them is Viktor Vekselberg, who was one of the guests at Stalin’s dacha back in 2000. With a short silver beard and ice blue eyes, he earned much of his fortune in oil and metals. Later on, he decided to direct it, with the Kremlin’s blessing, to the tech sector.
          Vekselberg quickly made friends in Silicon Valley, in part through investments managed by his cousin’s firm out of New York City. But Vekselberg’s partnerships with U.S. companies, like a billion-dollar deal he helped negotiate with Cisco in 2010, soon attracted the attention of the FBI, which issued a highly unusual warning to the industry in 2014. Vekselberg’s foundation, the bureau wrote, “may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies.”
          The concerns of U.S. authorities were even more acute when it came to Deripaska. He had emerged as the winner of a brutal competition for control of Russia’s aluminum industry–a billionaire since his 30s. The U.S. revoked his visa in 2006, effectively banning him from the country, reportedly because of alleged ties to Russian organized crime. That only seemed to improve his standing with the Kremlin. He had already married into the family of Putin’s predecessor, Yeltsin, and later became “a more or less permanent fixture on Putin’s trips abroad,” according to a 2006 U.S. embassy cable.
          Even without a U.S. visa, Deripaska still managed to develop ties with some of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington, including Manafort and his then partner, Rick Davis. The consultants introduced Deripaska in early 2006 to several Republican Senators, including John McCain. When the late Senator celebrated his 70th birthday in the tiny Balkan nation of Montenegro that summer, Deripaska was among the revellers.
          The partnership between Manafort and Deripaska was especially rich with opportunities for the Kremlin. The American lobbyist even pitched Deripaska a plan in 2005 to shape political events across the U.S. and much of Europe, according to the Associated Press, which published parts of the plan last year. The aim, the AP reported, was to “greatly benefit the Putin Government” with influence operations in a several Western capitals. One tactic Manafort reportedly touted would be to “train a cadre of leaders who can be relied upon in future governments.”
          Deripaska has denied ever agreeing to such a plan and Manafort denies working for Russia. “I have always publicly acknowledged that I worked for Mr. Deripaska and his company, Rusal, to advance its interests,” Manafort said in March 2017. “I did not work for the Russian government.”
          The year after Manafort sent his plan to Deripaska, they worked together on a project that redrew the map of Europe. In the spring of 2006, Montenegro held a referendum on independence from neighboring Serbia. Manafort has admitted helping stage the vote with financial backing from Deripaska. “It probably couldn’t have happened without their help,” says a Montenegrin official involved in the referendum. “They made a very good team.”
          Putin at Platon International Airport in February with tycoon Vekselberg, center right
          Putin at Platon International Airport in February with tycoon Vekselberg, center right
          Alexei Druzhinin—TASS/Getty Images
          The network of relationships cultivated by the oligarchs over the past two decades covered almost every sphere of influence at home and abroad, and it was partly by chance that Trump got caught in it. Trump’s desire to do business in Russia began well before Putin and the oligarchs rose to power. During his first visit to Moscow, arranged in 1987 by the USSR’s ambassador to Washington, Trump visited sites for a new hotel, including one near Red Square. “I was impressed with the ambition of Soviet officials to make a deal,” Trump recalls in The Art of the Deal.
          Vladimir Rubanov, who was a senior KGB officer at the time, says Trump may have been targeted for surveillance during that visit. “I’d say there is a 50-50 chance,” he tells TIME. The brash American certainly had the qualities that Soviet spies would have looked for. “He’s connected. He’s famous. He’s wealthy,” says Rubanov. “So for us this person would not be treated like just another visitor.”
          As the communist system began to break up in the late 1980s, the talks about a Trump Tower in Moscow fizzled. They were only revived in earnest a quarter-century later, but this time it was not the government handling the negotiations. It was Agalarov, Putin’s favorite builder.
          In the fall of 2013, Agalarov collaborated with Trump to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. They spent a couple of days together while hosting the event, attending parties and dinners with the Russian elite. The result was a plan to build a $3 billion complex of hotels, shopping malls and office space in Moscow, including a tower that was to bear Trump’s name. The state’s largest lender, Sberbank, even agreed to finance around 70% of the project, which would have been the biggest commercial real estate loan in its history at the time. But Trump’s political ambitions apparently wound up getting in the way. “If he hadn’t run for President, we would probably be in the construction phase today,” Agalarov’s son Emin told Forbes last year.
          As the elections approached, the Agalarov family kept in touch with the Trumps. With the help of his publicist in London, Emin reached out to Trump’s eldest son Donald Jr. to arrange a meeting in June 2016 that has since become a focus of the special counsel investigation. Held on the 25th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan, its nominal purpose was for the candidate’s top advisers–including Manafort and Kushner–to receive dirt on Clinton from a lawyer with close ties to Russian law enforcement. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, has denied having any information to offer, and Trump says he wasn’t aware that the meeting was taking place. Mueller has yet to disclose his findings on the gathering. But the role of the Agalarov family in setting it up shows just how deep into Trumpland their contacts reached.
          Then there was Vekselberg, whose ventures in Silicon Valley had caused such concern at the FBI. The tech billionaire scored an invitation to Trump’s Inauguration, thanks to his cousin Andrew Intrater, whose American firm, Columbus Nova, had made many of his tech investments in the U.S. Columbus Nova also made a surprising, different kind of investment early in Trump’s presidency. The firm paid Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, at least $500,000 in consulting fees in 2017, according to the New York Times. Although Vekselberg was Columbus Nova’s biggest client, the company’s lawyers say he had no role in the payments to Cohen.
          There may be other, earlier connections between Vekselberg and those who would become involved in Trump’s campaign. Documents obtained by TIME show that Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy adviser from March to September 2016, sought out Vekselberg via intermediaries in 2013 when Page was launching a natural gas business. The documents name Vekselberg as a hoped-for investor and refer to a senior executive in his foundation as a point of contact. The documents show Page planned dinner with the senior executive on July 3, 2013, and refer to a draft Memorandum of Understanding between Page’s firm and Russian energy giant Gazprom.
          At that time, Page was being wooed by a Russian intelligence operative in New York City with promises of contracts in the Russian energy sector, according to court documents. “He got hooked on Gazprom thinking that if they have a project, he could be [sic] rise up,” one of the spies wrote another, according to transcripts of intercepted conversations included in a criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department in January 2015. “I will feed him empty promises.” The two Russians were later arrested by the FBI and expelled from the country.
          Page told the House Intelligence Committee last year that in late June 2013 he met with two FBI officials who interviewed him about his contacts with the Russian spy. In his testimony, Page said he did not ask for anything of value from the spy, who Page said was the “least relevant” Russian he was speaking with about Gazprom at the time. Reached by TIME and asked about his attempted outreach to Vekselberg and any role the oligarch played in the Gazprom talks, Page said, “I can neither confirm nor deny, beyond noting that you’re being led far astray once again.” Page has not been charged with any wrongdoing.
          Early this year, Vekselberg was stopped and questioned by Mueller’s investigators, who searched his electronic devices, according to the New York Times. It is not clear whether Page ever met with Vekselberg or the senior executive. Through a spokesperson, Vekselberg said his Skolkovo Foundation has no means of accessing U.S. sensitive research or technologies and that he had never met Carter Page, and referred TIME to his senior executive, who did not respond to requests for comment. Vekselberg declined to comment on the Mueller investigation until it is over.
          Other oligarchs managed to play a role in the 2016 elections without ever setting foot on U.S. soil. The Internet Research Agency, which Prigozhin ran out of an office building in St. Petersburg, flooded social media with pro-Trump content that reached millions of American voters in 2016, according to Facebook’s internal investigation and a U.S. indictment issued against Prigozhin in February. Putin, for his part, did not seem to think these efforts were such a big deal. “This is only connected to private persons,” he said of his former chef’s alleged meddling in the U.S. election. “Not the state.”
          That argument would be harder for Putin to make in the case of Deripaska. His links to the state are so tight that in order to resolve his U.S. visa problems, the Russian government granted him a diplomatic passport, which he admitted using 10 times to visit New York, in court documents filed in 2016.
          It’s not known whether the private briefing allegedly offered by Manafort ever happened, but Deripaska was in close contact with the Kremlin around the time. In August 2016, he allegedly met on his yacht with one of Putin’s top foreign policy advisers, Sergei Prikhodko, and discussed U.S.-Russian relations. “We’ve got bad relations with America,” the billionaire told the Kremlin official, according to a brief audio recording of their conversation made by an escort on the boat and later leaked online. But that isn’t Russia’s fault, Deripaska added. It’s because of the ill will felt toward Russia in the Obama Administration, he said. Contacted for this story, Deripaska’s spokesperson said the line of questioning was based on “biased and false information,” but offered no further comment.
          None of the oligarchs would have needed specific instructions to know that helping Trump beat Clinton, a long-standing critic of Putin’s, would earn them their President’s gratitude, experts say. “They put their imaginations to work,” says Galeotti, “leveraging whatever resources and contacts they had.”
          But the price they paid for meddling in the U.S. elections was likely higher than any of them expected. The sanctions many have faced as a result are some of the toughest the U.S. has ever imposed on private businessmen. Bloomberg News estimated that Russia’s wealthiest tycoons lost a combined $16 billion of their net worth on that black Monday, April 9, after the sanctions were announced. Vekselberg reportedly had up to $2 billion of his U.S. assets frozen. Deripaska has been scrambling to distance himself from his companies in the hope of shielding them from the impact of the sanctions. The damage to their reputations among Western investors and banks is likely to hurt their businesses for years to come.
          The only winner in this saga would seem to be Putin, whose taming of the oligarchs at the start of his tenure continues to pay political dividends. It allowed him to stand before the cameras in Helsinki and shift the blame away from the Russian state. And as a means of covertly exercising influence abroad, Putin could hardly ask for a better toolkit than the one the oligarchs provide.
          In that sense the U.S. Treasury Department may have gotten the story backward when it pledged in April that the oligarchs “will no longer be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities.” In fact it is the businessmen of Russia who insulate the state and act on its behalf when necessary. For Putin, that is what makes them so useful, and that is not likely to change.
          With reporting by Tessa Berenson and Massimo Calabresi/Washington
          Contact us at editors@time.com.
          This appears in the October 01, 2018 issue of TIME.
          Read the whole story

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          Story image for sberbank and mueller investigation of trump from Japan Today

          Trump blasts FBI counterintel probe into whether he worked for Russia

          Japan Today-Jan 13, 2019
          Trump has repeatedly criticized the Mueller investigation as a "witch ..... in all interests in property of major Russian banks, including Sberbank, ...
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          How Putin's Oligarchs Got Inside the Trump Team

          TIME-Sep 20, 2018
          In the months before the 2016 elections, Manafort, then Trump's ... 14 to charges stemming from the Mueller investigation, Manafort agreed to ..... The state's largest lender, Sberbank, even agreed to finance around 70% of the ...
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          Why Britain Needs Its Own Mueller

          The New York Review of Books-Nov 16, 2018
          At the end of January 2017, days after Donald Trump's inauguration, .... America has the Mueller investigation. .... further meetings and evidence of a trip to Moscow to meet Sberbank officials, who were providing the financing.
          Story image for sberbank and mueller investigation of trump from NJ.com

          Why Commerce Secretary Ross and his Russian ties may be next in ...

          <a href="http://NJ.com" rel="nofollow">NJ.com</a>-May 13, 2018
          Ross's labyrinth of Russian bank ties may have paid off Trump's five bankruptcies ... The Bank of Cyprus has extensive dealings with Sberbank and is widely seen as ... East, is currently under FBI investigation for Russian money laundering. ... He may have some explaining to do there, as well as to Mueller.
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          sberbank and mueller investigation of trump - Google Search

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          Moscow Skyscraper Talks Continued Through ‘the Day I Won,’ Trump Is Said to Acknowledge - The New York Times

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          Moscow Skyscraper Talks Continued Through ‘the Day I Won,’ Trump Is Said to Acknowledge  The New York Times
          Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump's lawyer, said Mr. Trump recalled that the discussions were “going from the day I announced to the day I won.” That is ...

          "Putin and American political process" - Google News: Moscow Skyscraper Talks Continued Through ‘the Day I Won,’ Trump Is Said to Acknowledge - The New York Times

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          Moscow Skyscraper Talks Continued Through ‘the Day I Won,’ Trump Is Said to Acknowledge  The New York Times
          The Trump Tower Moscow talks went on for months longer than the president has previously acknowledged, his lawyer said.


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          Book by Former Staff Member Describes a White House ‘Out of Control’ - The New York Times

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          Book by Former Staff Member Describes a White House ‘Out of Control’  The New York Times
          Cliff Sims, a former communications staff member, portrays a West Wing full of back-stabbing and duplicity under President Trump in “Team of Vipers.”

          "trump and russia" - Google News: U.S. Policy on Russia? Trump and His Team Might Give Different Answers - The New York Times

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          U.S. Policy on Russia? Trump and His Team Might Give Different Answers  The New York Times
          WASHINGTON — After Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships in November and threatened to turn the Sea of Azov into a Russian lake, Trump ...


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          Democrats Prepare To Subpoena Deutsche Bank - "History Of Laundering Russian Money"

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          Democrats now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives are working out which House panels will take the lead in investigating President Trump’s business ties to Deutsche Bank.

          As the new Democratic House of Representatives majority launches a range of investigations into the Republican president and his businesses, the Intelligence Committee and Financial Services Committee are poised to dig into his ties with Deutsche, one of the world’s largest financial institutions.
          Democratic lawmakers’ aides are discussing how to divide up the investigative work among committees and prevent overlap on requesting documents, aides said.
          Since U.S. voters on Nov. 6 shifted majority control of the House from the Republicans to the Democrats, the party has been promising to probe the first two years of Trump’s administration and possible conflicts of interest presented by his hotel, golf course and other ventures, as well as Trump family members.
          Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that he plans to subpoena information on Trump’s transactions with the bank because of the German financial institution’s longtime relationship with Trump and its past ties to Russian money laundering.
          Schiff, who Trump has referred to as “little Adam Schitt,” said the answer to whether Trump was involved with Russian money laundering could exist in the Deutsche Bank records.
          “The concern about Deutsche Bank is that they have a history of laundering Russian money,” Schiff said. “And this, apparently, was the one bank that was willing to do business with the Trump Organization.”
          “If this is a form of compromise, it needs to be exposed,” he added.
          A Deutsche Bank spokesman said: “Deutsche Bank takes its legal obligations seriously and remains committed to cooperating with authorized investigations. Our recent record of cooperating with such investigations has been widely recognized by regulators. We intend to keep working in this spirit.”
          The Financial Services Committee, chaired by Democrat Maxine Waters, has the broadest power to look into Trump’s relationship with Deutsche.
          When the Republicans still controlled the House, Waters tried in 2017 to request documents from the bank on its dealings with Trump and his businesses, as well as information about potential Russian money laundering through the bank.
          But the bank told Congress that privacy laws prevented it from handing over such information without a formal subpoena. Committee Republicans ignored Waters’ request. As chairwoman, Waters can now issue subpoenas herself.
          In recent weeks, Waters has been publicly quiet about her plans.
          In a speech on Monday on committee priorities, she made no mention of the bank.
          A Waters spokesman declined to comment.
          Democratic aides outside the committee said Waters plans to move quietly on the Deutsche inquiry.
          She cannot begin formally issuing subpoenas until after the committee holds its first business meeting, expected by the end of January.
          Trump has been associated with the German bank since the late 1990s, a time when the big Wall Street banks wouldn’t lend to him following a series of business mishaps.
          Deutsche has extended millions of dollars in credit to the Trump Organization, making the bank one of few willing to lend extensively to Trump in the past decade.
          A 2017 financial disclosure form showed liabilities for Trump of at least $130 million to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, a unit of German-based Deutsche Bank AG.
          House Intelligence Committee Democrats also want to investigate Trump and his Deutsche links, said three congressional officials familiar with committee discussions.
          When Trump nearly went personally bankrupt in the early 1990s, he left a handful of major U.S. banks on the hook for about $3.4 billion in loans he couldn’t repay (and about $900 million of which he had personally guaranteed).
          Hotels, casinos, real estate, an airline and other parts of his debt-ridden portfolio went into bankruptcy protection.
          In the wake of that collapse, Trump became a pariah among major U.S. banks, and he had to find unique ways of lining up money for the infrequent and small-bore
          deals he pursued thereafter.
          That left him borrowing money from labor unions and small, local lenders. Deutsche, keen at the time to make a name for itself in U.S. investment banking and commercial lending, was less hesitant to do business with Trump.
          Deutsche’s first transaction with Trump involved a modest renovation loan for 40 Wall Street, a Manhattan skyscraper Trump controls, in 1998.
          Trump did little to merit Deutsche’s involvement after that until the early 2000s, when it agreed to loan him as much as $640 million for a Chicago project — the Trump International Hotel and Tower.
          Others in Trump’s orbit have also benefited from a relationship with Deutsche Bank; his son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner’s floundering real-estate empire has also received massive loans from Deutsche Bank, including $285 million one month before the 2016 election.
          After multiple outlets reported that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenaed Deutsche Bank’s records on Trump’s accounts, Trump reportedly attempted to fire Mueller, only to pull back when Mueller’s team told him those reporters were inaccurate.
          A U.S. official has, however, told Reuters that Mueller is investigating whether Deutsche Bank may have sold Trump Organization debts to sanctioned Russian banks.
          Trump once told The New York Times he considers investigating his and his family’s finances “a red line” and “a violation”, but Mueller has not stopped looking into the Trump Organization.

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          Trump Investigations: Michael Novakhov on the New Abwehr Hypothesis of Operation Trump - Google Search

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          How Chris Christie describes Jared Kushner

          The Week Magazine-Jan 18, 2019
          Chris Christie quite literally has enough problems with Jared Kushner to fill a book. The former New Jersey governor is set to publish Let Me ...
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          Fred Trump: How the US president’s father built the property empire that spawned his son's billions

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          Donald Trump has long enjoyed presenting himself as a self-made man, claiming the real estate portfolio that brought him wealth and fame is the product of hard graft and vision, nothing more.
          “I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of $1m...” he told NBC's Today, without irony, on the campaign trail in 2015.
          But The New York Times’s report that the president allegedly participated in “dubious tax schemes” to conceal up to $413m gifted to him and his siblings by their late father Fred Trump has again cast the harsh light of day on the Trump fortune and its backstory.

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          Frederick Christ Trump (yes, you read that right) built up a huge property empire in the mid-20th century, incorporating 27,000 apartments and row houses in the New York City boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, while the young Donald was raised in a 23-room, nine bathroom mansion in the leafy middle-class suburb of Jamaica Estates, making a nonsense of his claim to have sprung from hardship.
          Fred was born in 1905, the son of German immigrant Frederick Drumpf (a family name the satirist John Oliver has delighted in), who had arrived in New York on 19 October 1885 from Kallstadt via Bremen, a 16-year-old seeking to evade military conscription.
          Drumpf initially settled in the Big Apple before relocating to Seattle and then moving on to the Yukon Territory to take part in the Klondike Gold Rush, where he operated restaurants serving horse meat and a string of brothels catering to itinerant miners venturing in from the cold.
          A wealthy man, Frederick married Elizabeth Christ in 1902 and returned to New York where he worked as a hotel keeper and where their son Fred was raised in the Bronx.
          Fred Trump started his first business venture at 15 in 1920, building garage extensions to existing houses as the automobile’s future at the heart of American life was becoming increasingly clear. Too young to sign the cheques, he became partners with his mother in Elizabeth Trump & Son. He built his first house two years after leaving high school.
          Taking advantage of the Great Depression, when Franklin D Roosevelt’s government was doing all it could to bolster the construction and home financing industries, Fred Trump gradually grew his business throughout the 1930s to the 1950s by borrowing from the Federal Housing Authority and making influential friends among the Brooklyn Democratic Party.
          His properties were “plain but sturdy brick rental towers, clustered together in immaculately groomed parks”, as his New York Times obituary put it, selling for $3,990 and spread across the low-income neighbourhoods of Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Flatbush and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn and Flushing and Jamaica Estates in Queens.
          He also built apartments for servicemen in the Second World War in Pennsylvania and Virginia and foresaw the advent of supermarkets, building one of America’s first, the Trump Market at Woodhaven, New York, whose slogan was: “Serve yourself and save!”
          Known for his thrift, one of Fred’s few luxuries was a Cadillac with a personalised “FTC” vanity plate (his son's is “DJT”). Donald would recall in his ghost-written business manual The Art of the Deal(1987) that his father would roll up at construction sites after the working day was done and collect stray nails from the ground for his carpenters to use again the next morning.
          He would also water down paint and manufacture his own disinfectant and cockroach spray to save cash, sending brand samples to labs to determine their ingredients.
          “What had cost $2 a bottle, he got mixed for 50 cents,” remembered his son.
          Profiled by the trade magazine American Builder and Building Age in 1940, this side of his personality was revealed in depth: “Until last year he never had an office, and carried all his bookkeeping records around in his pocket. The ‘office’ he now has is a little structure of about 90 square feet of space in which the only occupant is a girl to write letters and answer the telephone. He still does most of his office work on the breakfast table at home.”
          That office, employee Richard Levy told The Times, was a former dentist’s practice in Beach Haven, Coney Island: “I felt like Custer... There were all these huge wooden Indians all over the place.’’
          Fred Trump’s practices were seldom free of controversy. A hard-bitten and ruthless man, he would lie about his family heritage, saying his ancestors hailed from Sweden so as not to deter potential Jewish tenants and developed a reputation for turning away black applicants, frequently bringing him into conflict with indignant civil rights groups.
          Amazingly, this was observed and recorded by folk troubadour Woody Guthrie, a Trump tenant, in his poem “Old Man Trump”: “I suppose/Old Man Trump knows/Just how much/Racial hate/He stirred up/In the bloodpot of human hearts/When he drawed/That colour line.”
          This especially unsavoury aspect of his character was revived in 2015 when an old New York Times press clipping from June 1927 was rediscovered, recording the 21-year-old Trump’s arrest – and eventual release without charge – for attending a Ku Klux Klan rally in which 1,000 Klansmen became embroiled in a battle with police.
          As a father, Fred had hoped his eldest son, Fred Jr, would follow him into the family business and was disappointed, scorning the boy and turning instead to Donald, the class prankster at school.
          In The Art of the Deal, President Trump describes the lessons he absorbed from his old man: “I never threw money around. I learned from my father that every penny counts, because before too long your pennies turn into dollars.” 
          Perhaps more tellingly, he revealed: “I was never intimidated by my father, the way most people were. I stood up to him, and he respected that.” 
          Donald Trump’s relationship with Fred has often been characterised as combative and oedipal, with the son closer to his Scottish mother Mary McLeod, the inspiration behind his golf resorts in Ayrshire and Aberdeen.
          Donald Trump poses in a rocking chair once used by President John F. Kennedy at his New York City residence
          Reuters
          Developer Donald Trump with his new bride Marla Maples after their wedding at the Plaza hotel in New York
          Reuters
          Donald Trump and Celina Midelfart watch the match between Conchita Martinez and Amanda Coetzer during U.S. Open. She was the date whom Donald Trump was with when he met his current wife Melania at a party in 1996
          Reuters
          U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas serving as the grand marshal for the Daytona 500, speaks to Donald Trump and Melania Knauss on the starting grid at the Daytona International Speedwa
          Reuters
          Developer Donald Trump talks with his former wife Ivana Trump during the men's final at the U.S. Open
          Reuters
          Donald Trump and his friend Melania Knauss pose for photographers as they arrive at the New York premiere of Star Wars Episode : 'The Phantom Menace,'
          Reuters
          Billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump talks with host Larry King. Trump told King that he was moving toward a possible bid for the United States presidency with the formation of a presidential exploratory committee
          Reuters
          Donald Trump answers questions as Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura looks on in Brooklyn Park. Trump said on Friday he 'very well might' make a run for president under the Reform Party banner but had not made a final decision
          Reuters
          Billionaire Donald Trump makes a face at a friend as he sits next to Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso before the start of the 2003 Miss Universe pageant in Panama City
          Reuters
          Entrepreneur Donald Trump is greeted by a Marilyn Monroe character look-a-alike, as he arrives at Universal Studios Hollywood to attend the an open casting call for his NBC television network reality series 'The Apprentice.'
          Reuters
          Donald Trump and Simon Cowell present an Emmy during the 56th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles
          Reuters
          Donald Trump and Megan Mullally perform at the 57th annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles
          Reuters
          Donald Trump, poses with his children, son Donald Trump, Jr., and daughters Tiffany and Ivanka
          Reuters
          Billionaire Donald Trump told Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner on Tuesday she would be given a second chance after reported misbehavior
          Reuters
          Donald Trump holds a replica of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as his wife Melania holds their son Barron in Los Angeles
          Reuters
          U.S. property mogul Donald Trump stands next to a bagpiper during a media event on the sand dunes of the Menie estate, the site for Trump's proposed golf resort, near Aberdeen, north east Scotland
          Reuters
          Whereas Trump Sr was largely frugal, although he was vain about his dyed hair in old age, Donald was flashy and flamboyant, vowing to take Manhattan and enter the luxury apartment market, dreaming of building the world’s tallest tower with his name emblazoned on it before turning his eye to the Eastern Seaboard and the gaming tables of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
          While Fred may not have shared his boy’s taste for ostentation, he approved of his ambition and did not hestitate to bail him out when his Taj Mahal Casino folly hit the rocks in 1991.
          As Sidney Blumenthal recounts in his London Review of Books essay, “A Short History of the Trumps”:
          “When the Taj was sinking like Donald’s own private Titanic, Fred Trump rushed to the casino to buy $3.35m in chips to buoy his flailing child, who used the money to avoid default by making an interest payment he wouldn’t otherwise have had the liquid reserves to meet. A straight loan would have put Fred Trump in the lengthy queue of creditors. With his loan in the form of chips he could redeem it as soon as his son had the capital. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission ruled a year later that Fred Trump had engaged in an illegal loan and that Donald should return it, which would have forced him into instant bankruptcy. The Trumps blithely ignored the finding and instead paid a meagre $65,000 fine, though the manoeuvre failed to save the casino.”
          When Fred passed away in 1999, The New York Times contacted Donald for comment. His jokey response was extraordinary: “It was good for me. You know, being the son of somebody, it could have been competition to me. This way, I got Manhattan all to myself!”
          And he kept it up. As Gwenda Blair wrote in her biography The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire (2000): “At his own father’s funeral, he did not stop patting himself on the back and promoting himself... There was to be no sorrow; there was only success... [It was] an astonishing display of self-absorption.’’
          President Trump clearly took his father’s example to heart and sought to surpass his achievements in the New York real estate game.
          Whether he received any further gifts from Fred Trump is now a matter for the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance.
          Read the whole story

          · · · · · · · · ·

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