Donald J. Trump, successful businessman, is a fantasy person, created by Trump himself. The facts are that Trump is a failed “real estate developer” with a trail of failed enterprises in his wake. Trump water, Trump steaks, Trump Air — all failed. Trump University was not only a failure, it was a huge scam for which Trump was ordered to pay his victims $25 million. The only success he had was a television “reality” show, playing on his made-up persona, in which he portrayed himself as a business tycoon who could spot success in “apprentices” while dispatching those without potential with the feared “You’re fired!”
Trump Tower is a garish building on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue containing luxury condominiums as well as office and retail space. It also is an international crime scene. In the 1990’s, Russian gangsters began to launder money by buying and selling apartments in Trump Tower. One of these Russian — a Russian hit man — lived in Trump Tower. Russians were arrested and convicted for running a gambling ring from Trump Tower.
Trump World Tower, on the eastern side of Manhattan near the United Nations, was built between 1999 and 2001. One-third of the luxury apartments were purchased by people and organizations from Russia. One Russian who was investigated by the Treasury Department for money-laundering lived one floor below Kellyanne Conway, later the press spokeswoman for Trump’s campaign.
Seven hundred units of Trump properties in Southern Florida were purchased by shell companies, established to hide the identities of the buyers. Some of these have been determined to be Russians and investigators suspect all buyers were Russians, using the properties to move vast sums of money out of Russia. Two men who were associated with these shell companies were convicted of running a gambling and money laundering operation out of Trump Tower.
By the late 1990’s, Trump was bankrupt and considered by US and foreign banks to be not creditworthy and untrustworthy. He owed almost four billion dollars to more than seventy banks; $800 million of this was loaned to him on his personal guarantee. He never made any attempts to pay back any of this four billion dollars.
After his 2004 bankruptcy, a group of US banks met with Trump and told him they would not lend him another penny, ever.
After 2004, the only bank that would do business with Trump was Deutsche Bank, which despite its impressive name had a long history of shady activities. Between 2011 and 2015, DB laundered about $10 billion for Russians. Trump never paid back any of his debts to DB.
In 2004 Trump purchased an abandoned Palm Beach, FL, mansion for $41 million. He never lived in it; never did anything to it. In 2008 Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy. Immediately after the filing, Russian Dmitry Rybolovlev purchased the property from Trump for $90 million — giving Trump a profit of $49 million, which was enough for him to pay off the loan used to buy the property. Rybolovlev never showed any interest in the property, did nothing to it, never lived in it. Later, during Trump’s Presidential run, Rybolovlev’s private 757 jet showed up at several locations where Trump was campaigning.
In 2006, Russians financed the construction of Trump Tower SoHo; Trump got 18% of the profits from the sale of condos in the building, although he put up no money himself. Felix Sater, a Russian-American, managed the construction, financing and sales of the SoHo property. Sater lived and worked two floors below Trump’s residence in Trump Tower. His business card identified him as a senior advisor to Trump. Using a shell company named Bayrock Group, Sater used purchases of Trump properties to launder untold millions of dollars from Russians.
Beginning in 2007, Sater and Bayrock helped Trump complete at least four projects world-wide. While some of these failed, Trump made money on all of them.
Russia is not a wealthy country. Russian wealth is highly concentrated in a small circle of super-wealthy individuals, all closely tied to Vladimir Putin. It is common practice for Russians to use money to make people indebted to them, then, name a price later. It is important to note that Trump was the first president in decades to not release his tax returns, probably because they would reveal his total dependence on Russian money and largess.
Trump continued his dalliance with the Russians during his presidential campaign — in October 2015 he signed a letter of intent to built Trump Tower Moscow, with his name on it. This deal never went through, likely because Putin killed it, not wanting to draw attention to Trump’s dependence on Russian money.
In the six months between Trump’s nomination and his election, 70% of his property sales were to shell companies in which the actual owners were hidden from view.
Trump’s presidential campaign was a re-run of “The Apprentice” with Trump using his fictional character with fictional wealth and fictional business success to sell his “Make America Great Again” fiction. Trump the winner is a fiction that can cause the United States to lose.