Sunday, March 04, 2018

A First Family Rotting From Corruption-- Ivanka's Own Personal Swamp


Once Ivanka's job was to shield her idiotic corrupt father; now she has an added burden: her idiotic corrupt husband. Early Saturday, Virginia Heffernan reported an interesting quote from one of the Putin-Gate hearings, going back half a year, by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: "Corrupt kleptocrats and international criminals make themselves rich in criminality and corruption. Then at some point they need the legitimate world in order to protect and account for their stolen proceeds." Was he referring to Putin? Or Trump? He was sketching "a new bipolar world order, in which the so-called legitimate world, which includes the United States, is not at war with, but rather deeply enmeshed in, the corrupt one, where governments are built on bribery, kleptocracy, electoral fraud, slush funds, legal plunder and nepotism." Sound familiar?

The witness was William F. Browder, the hedge funder turned global finance reformer and he "didn't mince words. 'The legitimate world, and America in particular, are failing in an absolute way. [The corrupt] steal the money, commit their crimes and kill the people, and then come here in the legitimate world with the rule of law, with the property rights, and with all the protections and keep their money.'" Again, Putin or Trump?
Crooks seeking legitimacy are not fenced out in America. The U.S. is teeming with enablers champing at the bit to serve rich thugs: lawyers, lobbyists, bankers, security firms, consultants and PR people.

The enabler sector now boasts several household names. Among them are the lobbyist and onetime Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been indicted for financial crimes; and Trump's favorite child, Ivanka, who holds an indeterminate public-facing position in the White House-- or in real estate, or maybe fashion.

Oh, Ivanka. Her livelihood is as opaque as her full-coverage foundation, but she plays a critical role in her father's administration-- and in the broader danse macabre of corruption and legitimacy.

The so-called first daughter proves that "laundering" applies to more than money. She washes and gilds just about everything she touches. Consider her warehouses upon warehouses of petroleum-based separates, many of them sewn for poverty pay in sweatshops. When you call this schmatte smorgasboard the Ivanka Trump Collection it does brisk business-- if not on Rodeo Drive, then in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

She has the same magic touch with the multitudes of flesh-and-blood rogues who flock to her for redemption. It's Ivanka who first brought Gen. Michael "Lied to the FBI" Flynn into the administration, according to the New Yorker; she praised him for his "amazing loyalty" and offered him his choice of positions at a transition-team meeting. One person present said, "It was like Princess Ivanka had laid the sword on Flynn's shoulders and said, 'Rise and go forth.'"

The laying on of that princess sword seems to be Ivanka's favorite pastime. In 2006, when she was 25, she toured Moscow with Felix Sater, who in 1998 pleaded guilty to a $40-million stock fraud scheme run by the Russian mafia. She also collaborated with the Soviet-born businessman Tamir Sapir, whose top aide in 2004 pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy with the Gambino crime family.

It's impossible to keep track of all the gangsters Ivanka has palled around with. But what's truly damning are the shady real-estate projects she has made rise and go forth.

In 2006, she oversaw the development of the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. The project was connected to a Brazilian money launderer later arrested for fraud and forgery as well as a Russian investor who'd previously been jailed in Israel for kidnapping. On Wednesday, a dispute between Trump's company and the building's owner turned violent. The journalist Marcy Wheeler has suggested the fight concerns records that may show Ivanka knew the property was laundering money. Police in riot gear stormed the hotel that Ivanka once hyped as "exemplary of the grandeur in which we like to enter a market."

Ivanka was also a ranking official on the Trump SoHo, which has since shed the name Trump. In 2010, as ProPublica and WNYC have reported, the Manhattan District Attorney's office began building a criminal case against Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr. for using inflated sales figures to defraud prospective buyers. After receiving a visit from Trump family lawyer and campaign donor Marc Kasowitz, then-DA Cyrus Vance Jr. backed off.

Just Thursday, CNN reported that FBI counterintelligence officials are investigating another Trump real-estate deal, the 63-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, which opened after Trump became president.

Ivanka has been described as "point person" on the development, which features an Ivanka Trump-branded spa. No one yet knows why it caught the FBI's eye, but Ivanka's long-awaited top-secret security clearance may turn on what the agents find out.

When an organization exists not to build buildings but to brand them, its business is optics. And Ivanka has long window-dressed the Trump Organization's deals. She was born to make the shoddy look cute, to legitimize corruption.

And if it's the coverup and not the crime that will ultimately bring down the Trump syndicate, Ivanka may turn out to be the point person for its demise.
The First Daughter indeed-- and wife of the the putzy little Kushner-in-law, who no longer is allowed to read the President's Daily Brief, looks forever out of his depth. Did you know Ivanka and Jared double-dated with Hope Hicks and Rob Porter? On Thursday, the editorial board of Murdoch's Wall Street Journal wrote that "[H]e and President Trump would both [be] better off if Mr. Kushner were out of the White House" and fast. Now the Kush is dead meat-- and Ivanka is fighting over what's left with John Kelly, as Señor Trumpanzee whines that his son-in-law is "a high quality person." He isn't-- and never has been. And Ivanka may not have too much time to put into saving her blundering, drowning husband, now that her own shady businesses are being targeted by the FBI. These guys are brave!
US counterintelligence officials are scrutinizing one of Ivanka Trump's international business deals, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The FBI has been looking into the negotiations and financing surrounding Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, according to a US official and a former US official. The scrutiny could be a hurdle for the first daughter as she tries to obtain a full security clearance in her role as adviser to President Donald Trump.

It's standard procedure to probe foreign contacts and international business deals as part of a background check investigation. But the complexity of the Trump Organization's business deals, which often rely on international financing and buyers, presents a challenge.

The FBI has been looking closely at the international business entanglements of both Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, to determine whether any of those deals could leave them vulnerable to pressure from foreign agents, including China, according to a US official.

The development-- a 616-foot beacon dotting the Vancouver skyline and featuring a trademarked Ivanka Trump spa-- opened in February 2017, just after Trump took office.

The Trump Organization does not own the building. Instead, like other Trump projects, it receives licensing and marketing fees from the developer, Joo Kim Tiah. A scion of one of Malaysia's wealthiest families, Tiah runs his family's Canada-based development company Holborn Group. President Trump's June financial disclosure form said the Trump Organization made more than $5 million in royalties and $21,500 in management fees from the Vancouver property.

...For the Trumps, deal-making is a family affair. The developer in Vancouver, Tiah, bonded with Donald Trump Jr. But Ivanka Trump played a key role in getting the deal off the ground in 2013, two years before Trump officially launched his presidential bid.

Tiah flew to New York for a meeting at Trump Tower. In the board room featured on The Apprentice, they hammered out the contours of the deal.

"One of the senior vice-presidents pulled me aside and said: 'Joo Kim, it's really important in your presentation that you connect with Ivanka. In other words: no one else is in the room, you have to understand that," Tiah recalled at the October 2015 launch of a "Trump Luxe" VIP service for condo residents. "In that meeting, it was clearly just me and Ivanka talking about the project," he recalled.

After an agreement was reached, Ivanka Trump recalled at the same event that she worked closely with Tiah: "We were working on a lot on the design elements and really forming the vision."

"Ivanka and myself approved everything, everything in this project," Tiah added.
Just as she had in the Trumpist money laundering operation in Baku, capital of the kleptocracy of Azerbaijan. And, like all Trump business partners, the Tiah family reeks of corruption. Tiah's father, the money behind the deal, "has a checkered business history, including securities laws violations and false statements to the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange." Everyone in business with Trump is a criminal; it's always been that way, in country after country. Trump didn't extricate himself from his and Ivanka's Baku deal until the FBI warned him-- then a candidate for president-- that it was, in part, a front for weapons smuggling to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
While it is not known whether Ivanka Trump's business deals are of interest to the special counsel's investigation, Mueller has been examining her husband's interactions with foreign investors.

Any information that arises during the FBI's security clearance checks that could be relevant to the special counsel's investigation would be automatically shared, according to a US official.

So far, the first daughter-- one of the President's closest confidants-- has largely managed to escape the glare of the Russia investigation. She has not been called to testify on Capitol Hill. She told NBC she has not met with Mueller for an interview.

"Consistently we have said there was no collusion. There was no collusion," Ivanka Trump said in an interview this week with NBC News. "And we believe that Mueller will do his work and reach that same conclusion."

But her low profile, particularly when it comes to Mueller's investigation, is baffling to some legal experts.

"Why is he not interviewing Ivanka? The answer is, beats me," said Michael Zeldin, a CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor who previously worked for Mueller at the Justice Department.

"Either he's just biding his time," Zeldin said, "or he has obtained this evidence elsewhere and he doesn't need her, or he appreciates the possibility of a major eruption were he to do that."

Ivanka Trump accompanied the President as two key events unfolded that Mueller is looking into as part of an obstruction of justice investigation: the firing of then-FBI Director James Comey and the misleading statement about the Trump team's meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer in Trump Tower in June 2016.

While it's unclear what role she played in either of those instances, she may have been privy the President's thinking at the time.

Trump's first-born daughter has long served as a trusted adviser, and she and her father often speak several times a day. She worked closely with her father and siblings in the family real estate business and counseled Trump throughout the presidential campaign and transition. She resigned from the Trump Organization in January 2017 and officially joined the White House staff in March.

For the most part, congressional investigators have also shown little interest in speaking with Ivanka, although some have pressed for her testimony.

Last month, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he'd like to speak with Ivanka Trump. But GOP members of the committee haven't backed his request to interview her.

"I think it would be valuable for her to testify and come before the committee," Schiff said.

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At 1:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm getting tired of hearing about all of this pending action. Wake me when someone actually does so.

At 10:47 PM, Anonymous zeeman said...

It will all boil down to two words: Scooter Libby!

At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Libby. Dick "Abbadon" Cheney is still mad that Dubya refused to pardon him.


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