In January of 2018, The Washington Post suggested that the Trump presidency was “On track to becoming the most corrupt in U.S. History,” citing hush money payments to porn stars, foreign governments patronizing Trump properties since taking office, Trump Organization real estate sales made in cash – totaling in the billions – by anonymous shell companies, and then there is the lying.
The Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey, a group of presidential scholars that meet to rate and rank the American presidents, placed Trump dead last in their 2018 ranking.
From the very beginning of his campaign, Trump claimed that he would surround himself with “the best people,” the “best people in the world,” and “the best and most serious people.” This has clearly not panned out.
According to Business Insider, Trump’s first year in the White House saw more firings, resignations, and reassignment of staffers than any other first-year administration in modern history. In addition, his Cabinet turnover surpasses any White House in the last 100 years.
His administration just might be a modern addendum to the definition of chaos.
To give you an idea of who Trump’s best and brightest are, I am compiling an alphabetical list of the people who have been involved with his administration, as well as his business associates, in an attempt to demonstrate the depth of corruption and malfeasance that encompasses the Trump world.
I will just release a few at a time so as not to overwhelm.
Let us begin.
Mukhtar is a politician, businessman, and banker who was accused of embezzlment and mismanaging $6 billion of bank assets while serving as the bank chairman of B.T.A. Bank, the largest bank in Kazakhstan.
In 2010, Trump Organization executive Michael Cohen, yes, that Michael Cohen, entered into negotiations with the Silk Road Group to license Trump’s name for the construction of a Trump Tower in Batumi, a city on the Black Sea in the Republic of Georgia.
At this time, Ablyazov was facing eleven lawsuits in the U.K., as well as with the Kazakh government. Multiple press agencies uncovered “a scheme by…Ablyazov, to direct between $8 billion and $12 billion worth of B.T.A. loans – about half of the bank’s loan book – to companies that he secretly controlled. (The New Yorker)
The Trump Organization claimed that the project was just a licensing deal from the beginning, and a way to make a quick million bucks that involved only the use of his name and an agreement to visit for publicity. But this agreement connected Trump’s company directly with a Kazakh oligarch, Timur Kulibayev, who had direct links to Putin.
The publicity campaign was designed to promote Georgia’s president at the time, Mikheil Saakashvili. The campaign was misleading, and implied that Trump Tower in Batumi would be funded by Trump. Saakashvili showed Trump around Batumi and promised Trump would soon build a second tower, and claimed the budget was over $250 million, which was patently false – the budget was less than half of that amount. There were even banners that read, “Trump Invests In Georgia.”
After returning to the U.S., Trump went on Fox and Friends to tell Gretchen Carlson “I’m doing a big development there – and it’s been amazing,” and claimed Saakashvili was “one of the great leaders of the world.”
A simple Google search would have revealed that the Silk Road Group received much of its funding from the B.T.A. Bank, chaired by Mukhtar Ablyazov. Cohen claimed not to know anything about B.T.A.’s involvement, but video from Trump’s visit to Georgia shows Trump was aware of the connection. In it, he pointed out George Ramishvili, the C.E.O. of Silk Road Group who was sitting next to deputy chairman Yerkin Tatishev of B.T.A., and said, “We have two great partners…and they are doing a fantastic job.”
B.T.A. Bank loaned the Silk Road Group $300 million. Those funds were then spread out among it’s many subsidiaries and shell companies, making it very hard to track the money.
According to Adam Davidson, with The New Yorker, minimal effort would have shown Trump Organization executives that Silk Road Group showed many warning signs of financial fraud: layered and often hidden ownership, ornate use of shell companies, and close ties to a bank embroiled in financial scandal.
Additionally, Davidson said, “So many partners of the Trump Organization have been fined, sued, or criminally investigated for financial crimes that it is hard to ascribe the pattern to coincidence, or even to shoddy due diligence.”
John Madinger, a retired U.S. Treasury official and I.R.S. special agent told Davidson, “You’ve got to do your due diligence. You shouldn’t do a financial transaction with funds that appear to stem from unlawful activity. That’s like saying, ‘I don’t care if Pablo Escobar is my secret business partner.’ You have to care – otherwise you’re at risk of violating laws against money laundering.”
Ablyazov scorecard: Fraud, Money Laundering, Corruption, Ethics
Steve Bannon is the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, and served as the White House Chief Strategist in the first seven months of the Trump administration.
Bannon founded the far-right website Breitbart News in 2016, and described it as “the platform for the alt-right,” and has frequently espoused nationalist views, as well as trumpeting his desire for “deconstructing the administrative state,” at the right wing Conservative Political Action Conference.
While at Breitbart, it was Bannon’s leadership that produced a steady stream of inflammatory stories of questionable origin, that included such headlines as, “Planned Parenthood’s Body Count Under Cecile Richards is Up to Half a Holocaust,” “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” and “Political Correctness Protects Muslim Rape Culture.”
During his Breitbart tenure, Bannon repeatedly made comments about the West being at war with Islam, called Islam “the most radical religion in the world,” and made the irrational claim that “Islamist sympathizers had infiltrated the U.S. government and news media.” (USA Today)
Prior to joining the Trump campaign in August of 2016, Bannon served as the vice president and secretary of Cambridge Analytica. The Democratic Coalition uncovered that Bannon was paid $950,000 in 2016 by a super pac controlled by Robert Mercer, the Cambridge Analytica founder.
Cambridge Analytica was the British political consulting firm, specializing in data mining, data brokerage and data analysis, that did work for the Trump campaign. It was uncovered that Cambridge Analytica improperly harvested raw data from up to 87 million Facebook user profiles with the intent to micro-target voters during the 2016 election.
In addition, Cambridge Analytica was in contact with executives from Lukoil, the Kremlin-linked oil giant, who was interested in how the Facebook data was used to target American voters. (nytimes.com)
Bannon was present at the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians in 2016.
During Bannon’s tenure in the White House, he frequently butted heads with other advisers, including Kushner, chief economic adviser Cohn, and particularly other more moderate members of the administration who Bannon referred to as “globalists,” a term that has become an anti-Semitic slur. (CNN)
Bannon was the architect of the hardline trade agenda targeting China, as well as encouraging Trump’s nationalist and populist desires. According to CNN, Bannon’s rivals in the White House “argued that he encouraged the President’s worst instincts.”
Bannon teamed up with Stephen Miller to create “Executive Order 13769” which is more commonly known as the Muslim Ban.
After the now infamous Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville, VA, that resulted in the death of a counter protester, and eventually multiple charges of inciting riots being filed against four militant white supremacists from a California-based organization called Rise Above Movement, the decision to have Trump blame “both sides” was reported to have come from Bannon.
Afterwards, the NAACP called on Trump “to take the tangible step to remove Steve Bannon, a well-known white supremacist leader, from his team of advisers.” The statement further described Bannon as a “symbol of white nationalism” who “energized that sentiment” through his current position within the White House.
After leaving the White House, Bannon declared his intention to become “the infrastructure, globally, for the global populist movement.” He supported nationalist populist conservative movements in France, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K., Belgium, Spain, Israel, and Brazil.
Steve Bannon scorecard: Racism, White Nationalism, White Supremacy, Xenophobia, Sexism, Anti-Semitism, Populist
Eric Blankenstein is a senior Trump appointee and policy director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is the agency responsible for enforcing laws against financial discrimination. The purpose of the CFPB is to “promote fairness and transparency for mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer financial products and services.”
Blankenstein previously worked as a private sector lawyer who represented banks involved in regulatory investigations. So the man who used to represent the banks in actions brought against them, is now in charge of the protection bureau tasked to represent and protect the American people from predatory lenders, and make sure that laws like the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and other legislation meant to protect minorities from discriminatory practices, are enforced.
So, and you can probably see this coming a mile away, Blankenstein, in a 2004 political blog post, questioned whether using the N-word was inherently racist, and claimed that the great majority of hate crimes were hoaxes. He wrote that a proposal by the University of Virginia to impose harsher academic penalties for acts of intolerance was “racial idiocy.” (Washington Post)
He has admitted to writing the racist entries, but claims they have no relevance to his current work, and has yet to even attempt to apologize for them. He simply claims that he is being attacked for having conservative views.
The man who is supposed to protect minorities from lenders, is a racist.
Eric Blankenstein scorecard: Racism, Corruption
COMING UP NEXT: John Bolton, Tom Bossert, and Rachel Brand