Just For The Record, Here’s A Partial List of Trump Corruption, Not That It Matters All That Much Anymore

I listened this morning, once again, to yet another journalist on television (CNN) grill a Clinton supporter about the Clinton Foundation. On another cable news channel (MSNBC) this morning, the great Joe Conason (who has a new book out on Bill Clinton) got into an argument with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski after they, as they frequently do, alleged corruption related to the Clinton Foundation. Conason insisted that nothing has been found indicating corruption, which didn’t set well with the two smirking hosts. Then, during the next segment, after Conason was long gone off the set, Scarborough attacked him ruthlessly (Conason has already published an account of what happened, along with why Scarborough was totally wrong).

Let’s be clear here: After countless reporters—and countless partisan enemies of the Clintons—over countless days and months have scoured the countryside looking for the tiniest amount of evidence that there was pay-for-play corruption involved with the Clinton Foundation, they haven’t found anything of substance. Yet the issue remains alive and well because those same reporters (and partisan pundits like Scarborough, who as a Congressman helped impeach Bill Clinton) just know there is something there because a) the Clintons are corrupt and b) they are good at hiding their corruption.

In the meantime, there is real corruption related to Donald Trump that, for some reason, doesn’t make good television, judging by how much attention it doesn’t get. Just for the record, I will summarize some of that corruption via an article by The Atlantic’s David A. Graham (“The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet“) and other sources:

  • David Fahrenthold, of The Washington Post, has been reporting for months on just how much money Trump doesn’t give to his own tiny Trump Foundation (none since 2008). What he does do is spend other people’s money, sometimes on things he keeps for himself.
  • In 2010 Trump received an award from the Palm Beach Police Foundation for his “selfless support.” The problem was that the support didn’t come from Trump. It came from another foundation. And it turns out that Trump, on the night he was being honored, may have made much more money for himself than the charity received! Fahrenthold writes:

“The gala was held at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and the police foundation paid to rent the room. It’s unclear how much was paid in 2010, but the police foundation reported in its tax filings that it rented Mar-a-Lago in 2014 for $276,463.”

  • “Fahrenthold has also now found five cases where the Trump Foundation reported donations that it did not make.” 
  • Image result for trump corruptionWe all have heard Trump brag about throwing money at politicians so “they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” One of those politicians was Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who happened to ask Trump for money when she was considering going after his fraudulent Trump “University.” Illegally, Trump made the donation from his foundation and later had to pay a penalty to the IRS for doing so. Oh, the price for not pursuing justice for Trump’s victims in Florida we now know: $25,000.
  • Trump settled a lawsuit in 1997 in which it was alleged that he groped a woman, Jill Harth, who was trying to discuss a business deal with him in 1992. “If I hadn’t pushed him away, I’m sure he would have just went for it. He was aggressive,” Harth says today. She dropped the lawsuit after Trump paid an undisclosed sum.
  • There have been countless allegations against Trump related to his family’s properties, most famously the lawsuit brought by Richard Nixon’s Justice Department in 1973 against Fred and Donald Trump for housing discrimination against people of color. Another famous case was Trump Plaza casino in New Jersey, which was fined $200,000 for making black employees leave the floor to please a racist and misogynist mobster, Robert LiButti, who had ties to Mafia boss John Gotti. Oh, LiButti’s daughter said Trump was “a liar” for claiming he didn’t know her dad. He knew him very well, she said.
  • Speaking of mobsters, there is plenty of evidence (here and here and here for instance) that Trump has frequently done business with wise guys. Most of us have heard of at least one of those deals, which involved hiring 200 undocumented Polish workers to demolish the building where Trump Tower now stands. David Kay Johnston has looked into all the wise guy connections and wrote: “What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figures—not only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.” Would Hillary Clinton survive even the hint of Mafia connections?
  • Trump’s lawyer for years, the godawful Roy Cohn, was also the lawyer for bosses of the Genovese crime family and the Gambino crime family in New York. Again, imagine if the Clintons’ lawyer had such obvious ties to the Mafia.
  • Then there’s Trump University. If you don’t know about that scam, shame on you or shame on the press or both. At the very least you have heard how Trump attacked the “Mexican” judge hearing the lawsuit against Trump University in California. This fraudulent scheme, maybe more than anything else, demonstrates what a greedy con artist Trump has been his entire adult life. Oh, but Hillary’s emails!
  • Then there is that time when Trump purchased a building full of tenants in New York and wanted to demolish it and build luxury condos. Except the tenants refused to allow Trump to break their leases with the previous owner. Trump’s predictable response was to cut off their heat and water and refuse to make needed repairs and then sue them for $150 million when they complained. Eventually, he lost that fight because, well, he’s a loser. But he has since embraced the idea of using eminent domain for private projects like the one he tried to get done.
  • Back to those 200 undocumented Polish workers who made way for Trump Tower. They were paid, when they actually got paid, substandard wages. As The Atlantic wrote, “The workers didn’t wear hard hats and often slept at the site. When the workers complained about their back pay, they were allegedly threatened with deportation.” Trump, of course, lied—what else is new?—about knowing the undocumented workers were working there. But he not only knew, he was responsible for bringing them in.
  • As far as his business acumen and honesty, here I will quote an entire paragraph from The Atlantic piece:

Trump has been repeatedly fined for breaking rules related to his operation of casinos. In 1990, with Trump Taj Mahal in trouble, Trump’s father Fred strolled in and bought 700 chiops worth a total of $3.5 million. The purchase helped the casino pay debt that was due, but because Fred Trump had no plans to gamble, the New Jersey gaming commission ruled that it was a loan that violateImage result for Robert LiButtid operating rules. Trump paid a $30,000 fine; in the end, the loan didn’t prevent a bankruptcy the following year. As noted above, New Jersey also fined Trump $200,000 for arranging to keep black employees away from mafioso Robert LiButti’s gambling table. In 1991, the Casino Control Commission fined Trump’s company another $450,000 for buying LiButti nine luxury cars. And in 2000, Trump was fined $250,000 for breaking New York state law in lobbying to prevent an Indian casino from opening in the Catskills, for fear it would compete against his Atlantic City casinos.

  • Speaking of undocumented workers, which Trump has made so much of during his campaign, foreign young women who claim they worked for Trump’s modeling agency say they did so without proper documentation and in some cases were encouraged “to deceive customs officials about why they were visiting the United States and told them to lie on customs forms about where they intended to live.”  The young women, some as young as 14, were packed into small apartments (“like a sweatshop,” said one) owned by Trump’s agency, which, predictably, rented the cramped apartments to the models at much higher than market rates. One model told Mother Jones magazine that she woke up one day and thought it was raining on her. But, no, it was merely “a bum pissing on my window, splashing me in my Trump Model bed.” Hopefully the bum had tiny hands like the model’s landlord.
  • The Federal Trade Commission fined Trump $750,000 in 1986 for not disclosing stock purchases designed to “mount a hostile takeover of two casino companies” in New Jersey.
  • Before the real estate crash in 2007-2008, Trump got “heavily involved in condo hotels,” which failed miserably. Many of the buyers sued him and he, as usual, settled without admitting wrongdoing. Trump’s partners in one of those developments, Trump SoHo in Manhattan, featured folks with a “lengthy criminal past.” How’d that happen to such a brilliant businessman?
  • Hillary Clinton herself has tried to make an issue out of Trump cheating small businesses out of money he owed them for work performed or services rendered. Alas, the mainstream press doesn’t care that much about “Contractors, waiters, dishwashers, and plumbers who have worked at Trump projects” getting stiffed by the cheap and phony “billionaire.” I will hand it to USA Today for doing at least one story on it, saying,

    Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will “protect your job.” But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.

  • Besides the fraudulent Trump University, which Trump owned, there is the fraudulent Trump Institute to which Trump licensed his name and promised to would-be “students” that he would “hand-pick instructors.” He didn’t, of course, and the two get-rich schemers who ran the con filed bankruptcy in 2008, even though the scheme apparently goes on to this day, plagiarized textbooks and all.
  • Trump has overcharged his campaign for the various properties he uses for campaign events or fundraisers. The money used to pay these overcharges comes from his donors and goes to him. So does the money he used to buy up copies of his ridiculous book, Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. I hope those small-dollar donors enjoy the fact that Trump has spent more than $55,000 of their money buying his own book, the money going into his pocket. (He may have broken campaign rules for doing that, by the way.)
  • Then there is the ongoing scandal of not releasing any tax returns. Journalists, every now and then, will press Trump or his surrogates and campaign officials as to why he won’t do what has become normalized behavior for those seeking the presidency. But when Trump or his spokesmen push back, journalists move on rather quickly. After all, there is Hillary’s “lack of transparency” to get to.
  • Then there is the ongoing scandal over Trump’s affection for Vladimir Putin and his possible ties to Russian moneyed interests. This is connected to the scandal over his refusal to release his tax returns and, again, the few journalists who do ask about it are quickly shut down and just as quickly move on to something else. Because there is always something else with Trump. Or there is always the Clinton Foundation that raises never-ending “questions,” even though the answers to those questions point away from corruption.

Meanwhile, the polls are tightening up, as too many Americans, the deplorable among them, embrace a man who may be the most unethical, secretive, greedy, amoral asshole who ever ran for office.

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8 Comments

  1. Duane,

    As I was reading through all of the financial dealings of the Donald, I couldn’t help but think of a recent essay by Bill Moyers, “We, the Plutocrats vs. We, the People “ at http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176184/tomgram%3A_bill_moyers%2C_money_and_power_in_america/#more

    Moyers, in his usual eloquence, gives us plenty to chew on. He goes back to the founding and follows America’s moral compass all the way up to the present. He writes, “ Every claim of political equality in our history has been met by fierce resistance from those who relished for themselves what they would deny others.” Sadly, that “fierce resistance” is too often lead by the right wing nuts; as in Trump’s supporters.

    And to illustrate how much the Republicans have changed over the last 50 years, Moyers quotes Barry Goldwater, “To be successful, representative government assumes that elections will be controlled by the citizenry at large, not by those who give the most money. Electors must believe that their vote counts. Elected officials must owe their allegiance to the people, not to their own wealth or to the wealth of interest groups that speak only for the selfish fringes of the whole community.” No Republican can say that today unless his fingers were crossed behind his back.

    Moyers goes on, from Walt Whitman to Gordon Gekko, tracing the devolution of our country from self-reliance to corporate dependence. As a result we have the greatest income inequality of modern times. And wealth, at least the pursuit of it and the protection of it, is the path to authoritarianism, which is anathema to democracy; especially representative democracy.

    However, being the eternal optimist, Moyers ends on an a high note: “The religion of inequality — of money and power — has failed us; its gods are false gods. There is something more essential — more profound — in the American experience than the hyena’s appetite. Once we recognize and nurture this, once we honor it, we can reboot democracy and get on with the work of liberating the country we carry in our hearts.”

    But Donald Trump would lead us down another path, as reflected by his business dealings – one of greed and lies and selfishness; one without compassion, without humility; and, most importantly, without any understanding of the common good, of we the people.

    Herb

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    • Herb,

      Thanks for the link to Moyers, which I appreciate (I haven’t had time to read it all yet). The points you made are pretty much unassailable, as far as I’m concerned. 

      I have struggled, unlike never before, to maintain my optimism about our country. I wish I could, like President Obama did today, speak about a sunny future for America. Right now I can’t. I am worried about the fact that a significant number among us are really and truly “a basket of deplorables,” in terms of their racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and so on. And some of that group (however large it is; Hillary may have underestimated it) are prone to use intimidation, even violence, to have their way, to “restore” their rightful place as privileged Americans (see: Trump rallies).

      There is no doubt that income inequality, as I have argued for so many years now on this blog, is a threat to our democracy. Such inequality can lead to profound distrust of a “rigged” system, a distrust that manifests itself in a loss of faith in most, if not all, of our cultural institutions. That is clearly happening, exacerbated by a cynical press that tends to feed “the system is rigged” soup to us every day. But something else is going on, which may or may not be directly related to the inequality we see (rural populations are becoming poorer while suburban and urban populations are getting wealthier, which loosely corresponds with our political divisions).

      That something else is an aggrieved group of folks who think their grievances have to do with losing their traditional high place in our society. They are losing on social issues like the acceptance of homosexuality as a “norm.” They see their faith under attack by the presence of outsiders with strange beliefs, like Islam, or no beliefs at all. They see more and more people of color—Barack Obama is the ultimate and perhaps pivotal figure—assuming positions that have never been occupied by anyone other than whites, and this phenomenon causes them anxiety, even fear. They see a growing population of people who don’t understand things like why they wear so much camouflage (trivial) and why they have a love affair with guns (not trivial). And so on. 

      Given all of this, I just don’t see how the divide we see gets bridged anytime soon. If anything, it seems to me it will get worse, especially if Donald Trump loses a close election. As I have said before, I hope I am wrong. I fear I’m not.

      Duane

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  2. The contrast between Trump’s sins and Hillary’s faults is breath-taking. As you show so well, Duane, the facts are there in the record if only we will read them. It is easy to blame the media for not placing proper emphasis on the facts. I do too, but I also understand the nature of it. The lifeblood of the media is ad revenue and that translates to a need for audience and news that is, well, new. Trump has slyly (or, instinctively) leveraged that, thus detracting from old stuff. The basket of deplorables eats up demagoguery. And, I agree with you, Hillary may have underestimated the size of that population.

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    • Jim,

      You hit on one thing I will give Trump credit for understanding all too well: the gullibility of too many Americans. To me, he reminds me of so many creepy televangelists I have seen over the years. He knows exactly how to attract the people he wants to attract and get from them what he wants. My problem with the media (especially television, where Trump has run his con) is that too many journalists don’t treat him like a creepy televangelist. I’ll give you an analogy:

      Let’s say the press were covering a race for, say, the head of the Theology Department at Boston College. One of the candidates is a guy who hasn’t been to church since he was a kid, who has never studied either the Bible or a book on theology, and who has a high disregard for religion and ethics and the department he wishes to head. The other candidate has advanced degrees in theology, held many positions in religious institutions, including teaching positions at Boston University, and clearly expresses love for religion and for the theology department. If the press, because of concerns over profits over a misconceived concept of “objectivity,” were to treat both candidates like they were equally qualified for and deserving of the job, then I think it is fair to say that the press is not, in any comprehensible way, doing what the press is supposed to do.

      And  speaking of profits, I will add that even if the press were to throw away its misconceived concept of objectivity and cover Trump like he should be covered (again, especially on television), then they may make more money and have more folks tuning in to see the ensuing fireworks.

      Duane

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  September 14, 2016

    Duane,

    Long before you wrote this blob I was convinced that Trump would be much worse than Hillary. I doubt seriously that I will change that opinion. My problem is that I see far too many examples of poor judgment on her part, historically, to be able to endorse her to become our next president. It seems there are a lot of Americans with such sentiments today, how many I have no idea.

    I do find some common ground with you however in that both of us are deeply worried about the lack of fundamental unity in America today. Both of us as older men claim we have “never seen it this bad” or words to that effect. That is the primary reason I read and engage to a degree on this blog now, seeking to find a way to reach agreement on the best path forward. In that regard your comments, while strongly supporting Hillary, reflect deep concern about how to move forward with her decidedly Democrat (progressive) positions, in general. That is exactly why I wrote recently about “4 more years”. Hillary is different than Obama in many ways for sure, but my concern is 4 more years of decidedly progressive governance from the WH.

    I had that same concern in 1992. 12 years of GOP rule from the WH was enough for me. That is exactly why I voted for Ross P. in that election. More than likely I will throw away my vote this year and vote for Johnson simply as the only way I can “say” that neither the Dem or GOP candidate is not good enough to get my vote in favor of them.

    One last point directly related to this current campaign with the topic “income inequality”. Neither candidate has addressed that issue in the long term way I consider to be very important to move out of our current situation, a bad situation. Until this country restores its system of public education to one of real excellence we will never “fix” gross inequality between the have’s and have not’s. Numbers wise, the “cognitive elite” have become smaller and smaller and income has followed that trend, concentration of wealth in their hands, fundamentally.

    But of course such a view will never produce results fast enough for the “I want my needs fulfilled by someone else and I want it NOW” America that we all know so well today.

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      To keep it simple for now I want to challenge you on two things:

      1. You said you are “concerned” about “4 more years of decidedly progressive governance from the WH.” That assumes something that is not really in evidence. Speaking as a liberal-progressive, I find that President Obama, as much as he might have wanted to, didn’t really get to govern as a progressive. On foreign policy and the terrorist threat, he was in many ways essentially forced to modify his positions (and inclinations) by the facts on the ground. Domestically, except for the early stimulus and the guarantee of health insurance for most Americans, he was unable to do all that much that could be called progressive. Starting in 2010, his choices were limited by Tea Party Republicans and their enablers.

      2. You said it is likely you will “throw away” your vote this year. Sorry. But I have to tell you that you are not throwing it away by voting for Johnson. You are actually making it easier for Donald Trump to win. The math is simple. Right-leaning people like you usually vote for the Republican. And left-leaning people usually vote for the Democrat. That’s why the national races are so close normally. And if right-leaning people like you who see that Trump is an unstable, unqualified candidate vote for a third party, coupled with left-leaning people who think Hillary Clinton is insufficiently liberal or untrustworthy and vote third-party, then the race naturally will be close. In other words, in a normal election your vote makes the race close because it usually goes to the GOP. In this abnormal election (where third-party candidates will likely decide the outcome) you are still making it close (and making it possible for him to win) by voting for someone who has no chance of winning. The Ross Perot example was different. There was no leftist like Jill Stein, who is polling at 2-4% right now. In that 1992 election, the Libertarian candidate got only 0.28 percent of the vote! So, rather than throwing away your vote to Johnson, you are actually giving a hand to Donald Trump. I say this respectfully: you have to live with that, not me. My children and my (so far) one grandchild will not be able to blame me for a President Trump.

      Duane

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  4. I would just remind everybody that, unless you live in a state where the candidates are running neck and neck, your vote may not count. I live in a solid red state, so I can vote for Hillary early and often but it won’t matter. Trump will carry Oklahoma in a landslide and thereby win all of its 7 votes in the Electoral College. Of course, my vote will count in the popular election, but that’s not how we pick our presidents. Maybe one day . . . .

    Of course, there is always the potential problem of a third party candidate actually winning a few states. In that very unlikely event, if no candidate gets the minimum 270 votes in the Electoral College, then the thing goes to the House of Representatives to decide. (The VP selection goes to the Senate.) Not a danger this time, but it is a risk until the voters wake up and amend the Constitution to get rid of the EC.

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    • Agreed. But until then, we have a problem with millennials showing strong support not for Trump but for Johnson (and some small number for Klein, which may decisive in, uh, Florida). I am very worried about Johnson’s ability to tilt this race toward Trump. He has to know he has zero chance of winning and a high probability of helping a dangerous man become the leader of the free world. For the life of me, I don’t know how so often ego triumphs over patriotism, but we are watching it happen with the candidacies, foolish candidacies this year, of Johnson and Stein.

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