I thought I’d check out this book to give me a general idea of what the Mueller investigation is focusing on.
The main premise of the author is that when Trump’s financial empire was collapsing in the 1990s, with three multi-million-dollar projects in a row going bankrupt, he was in desperate need for cash. But all of his American bankers had cut him off. So Trump turned to “dark sources in Russia, a long-time enemy of the United States. And thus commenced decades-long deal-making with a growing cob-web of corrupt, criminal , and powerful Russians.” Leading to a tangled web, which may have put Trump in a comprising position, and caused him to cross all sorts of legal and moral lines that now, as president, may be a direct threat to our national security. Hence, the Mueller investigation.
Trump’s actual financial dealings in Russia seem to be fairly minimal. He put on the notorious Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013. And made several attempts to build a Trump Tower in Russia, none of which got beyond the drawing board stage. But his main financial dealings seem to involve pulling money out of Russia.
Numerous prominent Russians bought apartments at Trump Tower — including quite a few with direct connections to Russian organized crime. And it’s widely assumed that the Russian Mafia used Trump’s Taj Mahal casino to launder millions of dollars, an offense Trump was repeatedly fined for (apparently casinos are a great place for crooks to launder money — they walk in with illicit funds, turn the money into a stack of chips, gamble a bit, and then cash our with clean money).
And in fact, it turns out Trump was half-right when he accused the FBI of wire-tapping him at Trump Tower. The FBI was wire-tapping “one of the world’s biggest illegal high-stakes gambling rings” that was being run in one of the Trump Tower suites a couple floors below Trump’s own penthouse. The guy running the ring — another very shady Russian underworld character — ended up getting arrested and sentenced to 5 years in prison.