FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Empire of Fraud, Made in America

Photo Source StickerGiant Custom Stickers & Labels | CC BY 2.0


Lest it be washed out by the next Spectacle, allow me to summarize the most important article yet about the Life of Trump, and to make explicit a couple of the explosive points that the New York Times only implies. 

On the front end, Fred Trump’s fortune drew from decades of post-World War II federal housing development loans and subsidies worth tens of millions. On the back end, tax evasion was vast, multifarious and constant. That was the business model. Properties were wildly undervalued, expenses inflated, revenues hidden. Tenants were systematically victimized. The family cultivated a deep contempt for the government that provided them with such largesse.

Over decades, hundreds of millions were shifted from Fred to his children via untaxed gift-loans and hidden property-transfer schemes. Donald received tens of millions in such never-to-be-repaid “loans” on a near-quarterly basis, contrary to his ridiculous legend that he made billions starting with nothing more than a million-dollar stake from Fred. A friend of the family enacted one payoff from Fred to Donald by buying 3.5 million in casino chips and leaving Atlantic City without making a bet. In Fred’s final years, the children set up a scam company that overcharged on building services to drain the father’s holding companies of $50 million in excess cash. After Fred’s death, his properties were assessed at a small fraction of the value, allowing the children to evade at least $50 million in estate taxes. The IRS let almost all of this pass, sometimes making minor revisions in assessments. All of the late father’s holdings were sold in 2004 at near full value for more than $800 million.

The lion’s share of all this went to the “self-made” son and chosen successor, Donald. He was probably never a billionaire until recently, but for many years a gambler entangled in many schemes, often on the knife’s edge of ruin. He got away with it in large part thanks to the corporate media.

The New York Times confesses to jump-starting Donald’s celebrity career with a 1976 puff-piece that legitimated his absurd claim that his personal net wealth was $200 million. This helped launch him as a suitor in the lobbies of higher-level finance. Today the paper describes their own article as a con-job. This kind of media coverage became routine and enabled the many side-scams based on the Trump name: the airline, the golf clubs, the steaks, the “university.” Trump was made synonymous with the good life, with the American vision of success.

Now, finally, the Times presents the underbelly they mostly failed to cover for 42 years, drawing on thousands of documents to expose the workings of a crime family. Nothing about it is surprising, but confirmation in this much detail is big news. This was never a “business” in the sense that many Americans still believe.

Three vital takeaways:

(1) Of course, the system is designed to favor the rich, but tax evasion and scams with public money on this scale for this long do not happen without protection. New York developers exploiting government welfare in the postwar era could hardly have avoided collaboration with the mobsters that controlled the construction trades and the protection rackets, but this is not merely a truism. The Trump links to New York-New Jersey mafia figures and their shared lawyers (like Roy Cohn) are known. The most explosive impliciations still need to be told: payoffs to officials, bought politicians, the likelihood of blackmail and extortion. In the Donald years, this morphed into global money laundering through real estate and casinos. For all the legal mutations and shell-games, the resulting concerns remain active today. Anything done after 2012 is still liable to prosecution.

(2) Given that, and with this piece landing on the desks of attorney generals from New York to California, the speculation no longer appears outlandish that Trump needs to get Kavanaugh seated before the Supreme Court considers the Gamble “double jeopardy” case, which could neutralize state-level investigations into Trump Organization emoluments and scams.

(3) The corporate media was complicit at every stage. They did not report on the businesses. They did not take up the investigative research published by the likes of David Cay Johnston, Wayne Barrett, and several others starting already in the 1980s. They did devote decades of puff to the fake playboy. This relationship blossomed into 14 seasons of The Apprentice, the WWE venture, and the years of uninterrupted transmission of his every poisonous word that powered the presidential campaign, long before the first primary. Today they still enable him by coddling the violent, racist politics as “populist” and, paradoxically, by pretending anything bad about the regime is the product of an obscure foreign conspiracy.

See David Cay Johnston’s reply.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail