The reasons that Donald Trump would need a massive distraction at this point are numerous. Every day seems to produce fresh evidence that the White House was fully aware that Trump’s delay of military assistance to Ukraine was simply against the law, and that multiple officials engaged in a criminal conspiracy to cover up for Trump and retroactively create an excuse for an inexcusable act. Somewhere right now, Mitch McConnell is probably drafting a statement claiming that the Senate could not possibly consider an impeachment trial “during a time of war.”
But onto that stack of dog-wagging rationales add this one: According to Forensic News, Trump’s loans from Deutsche Bank were underwritten by a Russian state-owned bank. That news reportedly comes from a whistleblower with access to documents from both Deutsche Bank and Russia’s state-owned VTB Bank. VTB Bank was also the proposed lender on the never-completed Trump Tower Moscow project.
The question of why Deutsche Bank would extend a series of huge loans to Trump has been dangling since before he ever announced his candidacy for president on a golden escalator ride. When Trump first went to Deutsche Bank, he was worse than broke. He had just finished bankrupting multiple casinos in New Jersey, and then had convinced investors to back a takeover of those casinos at a fraction of the original value. Then Trump deliberately allowed the investment group to go bankrupt so he could grab the whole deal himself at a fraction of what his investors had paid. Then he went bankrupt. Again. And along the way he was socked with a massive fine for money laundering at his now bankrupt (again) casino.
Trump was so fiscally radioactive that no American bank would let him in the door. But Deutsche Bank turned around and gifted Trump with loans that gave him a fresh start and an apparently miracle turnaround of his New York real estate empire. Those loans have always been the subject of head-scratching over just what Deutsche Bank could have been thinking. But if Forensic News is right, what Deutsche Bank was thinking was that it wasn’t risking a damn thing, because the Russian government was actually vouching for Trump through VTB Bank. If Trump didn’t come through, Vladimir Putin was offering to make it good.
The documents supposedly originated with the son of a former Deutsche Bank official who committed suicide, which is very much the kind of connection that raises concerns about the authenticity of the information. This only highlights the importance of efforts by Congress to gain access to information on these loans. The last appeals court ruling in the case instructed Deutsche Bank to turn over the information, but the Supreme Court stepped in to block the subpoena and hear the case.
Trump lost the fight against the congressional subpoena at the district level and in two appeals, with all judges decisively siding with Congress’ authority to request the records. That the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case is very unusual, both because there was no conflict among rulings by lower courts and because the Supreme Court tends to avoid most cases involving a conflict between the executive and legislative branches.
Much of Trump’s “recovery” depended on selling apartments and buildings to Russian oligarchs at far above market prices. Those deals have always suggested the same kind of money laundering that added to the conviction of Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, but if these accusations are accurate, Russia did far more for Trump than buy his gilded condos.
If they are true, this would show that Donald Trump was 100% dependent on the Russian government for his “big comeback.” It would mean that he was completely beholden to Putin for his real estate, for his golf courses, for his candidacy—for everything.
Published with permission of Daily Kos