Mafia Don’s Murky Past
Presidential candidate Trump prefers the grandiose titular name, The Donald. In reality, to be honest to his background, it should be The Mafia Don as in Don Coreleone in the movie The Godfather. Trump’s past is so intertwined with organized crime it’s incredible that the hand-wringing GOP anti-Trump establishment or Hillary Clinton have not smeared it across every newspaper in America.
Trump was born just after the end of World War II in Jamaica Queens, New York some seventy years ago. He was son of Fred Trump, a major New York real estate and construction developer. It was well known to every taxi driver or bar owner that for anyone to be a success in New York construction he had to be on friendly terms with the mob, then and today. Just like those who run the garbage disposal businesses, or control the harbors. Fred Trump’s son Don left business school to join daddy Fred’s construction and real estate business in New York City.
Trump’s early mentor in the ways of doing slick, shady construction business in New York was one of the sleaziest characters in New York, a lawyer named Roy Cohn.
Cohn, once lawyer for the sleazy US Senator Joe McCarthy, reportedly shaped McCarthy’s insane paranoid campaign against unnamed communists in the State Department in the early 1950s. Cohn’s biographer, Nicholas von Hoffman, noted that Cohn “lived in a matrix of crime and unethical conduct…derived a significant part of his income from illegal or unethical schemes and conspiracies.” His ties to the mob were so close that he allowed top Mafia bosses like Frank Costello to hold their meetings in his law office so they could claim lawyer-client immunity privilege.
Cohn, who was pronounced dead of AIDS in 1986 and was described by Hoffman as, “the best-known non-show-business homosexual in the country,” was the attorney for a notorious cocaine-snorting Manhattan nightclub in the late 1970’s called Studio 54.
Hoffman wrote of the orgies at Studio 54 held by Cohn, “For special celebrities, the wildest parties were held in the basement…with high society’s homosexuals, transsexuals and transvestites…” Cohn held some of his biggest birthday bangs, attended on at least one occasion by, “the important officials of the Democratic, Republican, and Conservative parties, most of the city’s major elected officials, a number of Congressmen, the Chief Judge of the United States District Court and Roy’s usuals…Donald Trump.”
Donald Trump, organized crime lawyer, Roy Cohn, and cocaine orgies in the basement of Studio 54 attended by judges and politicians of every party? In an interview Trump even described one such Studio 54 orgy he attended: “I would watch supermodels getting screwed, well-known supermodels getting screwed, on a bench in the middle of the room. There were seven of them and each one was getting screwed by a different guy. This was in the middle of the room.” He omitted to say whether he was among that seven.
In the 1970’s when Trump was in his 20’s he hired Roy Cohn as his attorney and “fixer” as he took over his father’s New York real estate and construction business. Trump and Cohn were regular companions at Studio 54 where Cohn was the lawyer. Trump reportedly even kept a photo of Cohn in his office.
In 1979, Cohn introduced Trump to a political dirty-tricks specialist named Roger Stone. Trump and Stone remain close to the present day. Stone, who has worked with Trump on campaigns since 1987, including the present Presidential bid, was charged and fined along with Trump for illegally breaking campaign rules as they fought the development of Indian casinos, competition for Trump’s Atlantic City casinos. Stone’s advice to Trump and other clients was, “Admit nothing, deny everything, launch counterattack….When somebody screws you, screw ‘em back—but a lot harder.” Trump learned Stone’s method well. In 2015 Trump again hired Stone for managing his GOP Presidential bid, but reportedly fired him in August, 2015 for taking too much credit for Trump’s growing success. The Don likes to take all credit. He is, after all, grandiose.
The Don’s mob pals
Mentored since his 20’s by New York mob attorney, Roy Cohn, The Don ever since has been involved with mob or mafia figures. Characteristically, as befits a protegé of Roy Cohn, Trump always denies knowing they were mob figures.
Don Trump entered the world of casino gambling in 1987. Casinos have invariably been associated with laundering money, criminal money of the mob, of the CIA for covert operations like Iran-Contra—taking dirty money and making it “clean,” untraceable. Las Vegas was created by Meyer Lansky, the late head of what was called during Prohibition “Murder Inc.” Lansky ran the casinos of pre-Castro Cuba until the Cuban Revolution in 1959 kicked him and his casinos out. In 1987, a year after his mentor and close friend Roy Cohn died of AIDS, Trump bought 93% control of a dubious casino company in the Bahamas called Resorts International.
Resorts International evolved from a CIA money-laundering front company set up by CIA chief Allen Dulles in the 1950’s. It was called the harmless-sounding name Mary Carter Paint Company. It later merged with help of CIA funds, with Jim Crosby’s Crosby-Miller Corporation. The name was changed to Resorts International in 1968 and it ran casinos in the Caribbean. In 1963, Alvin I. Malnik, a top henchman of crime boss Meyer Lansky, was deeply involved with Mary Carter/Resorts. Resorts International financed a New Jersey referendum that made casino gambling legal in one city in the state-Atlantic City.
Jim Crosby, an alleged CIA front man who later founded a private security company called Intertel whose clients numbered the late Shah of Iran and late Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, thendied. His family sold the 93% control of Resorts International to…The Don, Donald Trump, in March 1987. Casinos in Atlantic City were the result of a decision years earlier at a mob meeting in Acapulco of the Meyer Lansky Syndicate to expand operations outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Resorts International, then one of the most successful casino operations, was used to do it. Trump entered that charmed world in 1987.
In 1991 Trump and his Atlantic City Trump Plaza casino came into trouble with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission about his dealings with Robert LiButti, a high-rolling gambler and horse breeder who was later banned from Atlantic City for his ties to mob boss, John Gotti. When asked about the LiButti tie, Trump retorted, as he always does, that he “couldn’t recall” the name. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer when questioned about his relation to LiButti, “I have heard he is a high roller, but if he was standing here in front of me, I wouldn’t know what he looked like.” The only problem is that LiButti’s daughter, Edith Creamer, LiButti’s daughter, told Yahoo News that Trump’s account was false. “He’s a liar,” said Creamer. “Of course he knew him. I flew in the [Trump] helicopter with [Trump’s then wife] Ivana and the kids. My dad flew it up and down [to Atlantic City]. My 35th birthday party was at the Plaza and Donald was there. After the party, we went on his boat, his big yacht. I like Trump, but it pisses me off that he denies knowing my father.
In 2010, The Don appointed Felix H. Sater aka Satter, an executive at Bayrock Group LLC, to be Trump’s “senior business adviser,” with an office next to Trump’s and Trump business cards. Sater’s Bayrock had partnered with Trump on the Trump Soho high-rise hotel in Manhattan and other branded luxury real estate deals. Sater had pleaded guilty in 1998 to racketeering for his role in a $40 million stock fraud scheme involving the Genovese and Bonanno crime families. When an AP reporter questioned Trump about Sater in December, 2015, The Don replied his usual, “Felix Sater, boy, I have to even think about it. I’m not that familiar with him.” A spokesman for the Trump Organization acknowledged publicly that Sater worked for Trump after the disclosures of Sater’s criminal background. Sater is a Russian émigré who emigrated to Brooklyn in 1974.
American success story?
Trump has become a political phenomenon and popular among frustrated Americans fed up with lying Washington politicians. He wins traditional Democratic labor union support for attacking Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal for robbing more American jobs. He wins support from confused angry unemployed or underemployed voters when he pledges to build a wall on the Mexican border to keep illegal refugees out, calling them drug dealers and criminals. Similarly, he garners support from the so-called “silent majority” when he proposes, quite against the US Constitution, to ban any and all Muslims from entering the United States.
The Don has someone behind the scenes, perhaps old crony Roger Stone, giving him very savvy advice on the “hot button” issues on voters’ minds and panders to that, as any skilled demagogue would. He does it in sound bytes. He spells out no coherent program to rebuild America or to deal with a nation in existential crisis other than to proclaim he could “sit down with Putin” and work a deal. About what, he never says.
Trump’s campaign website proclaims the now familiar mantra, “Trump is the very definition of the American success story, continually setting the standards of excellence in business, real estate and entertainment.”
What he chooses not to play up is that he has repeatedly declared bankruptcy on his casinos then, suspiciously, coming out of bankruptcy smelling like the proverbial rose. Trump’s hotel and casino businesses have declared bankruptcy five times between 1991 and 2014. Because the businesses used Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they were allowed to operate while the owners attempted to settle accounts with investors through asset sales and debt cancellation.
According to a report by Forbes in 2011, the first four bankruptcies were the result of over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City: Trump’s Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza Hotel, Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, and Trump Entertainment Resorts. Boasting, Trump said “I’ve used the laws of this country to pare debt. … We’ll have the company. We’ll throw it into a chapter. We’ll negotiate with the banks. We’ll make a fantastic deal. You know, it’s like on The Apprentice. It’s not personal. It’s just business.”
There are two possible conclusions to draw from the above documents of a fifty some year history of businessman Don Trump and a myriad gaggle of business associates who are tied to the mob. Either it is true, as he says again and again, that he was unaware of their mob ties and worked with them for superior their business skills. In that case, with fifty years of such abysmal lack of elementary due diligence in checking backgrounds of those he works with in the most sensitive positions, Don Trump is demonstrably not qualified, on national security grounds, to even be White House gardener. On the other hand, if the ties are with knowledge and clear intent, from Roy Cohn to those of the last several years, Don Trump then is a narcissistic pathetic real estate and casino gangster who ought never to step near the most powerful office on Earth.