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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Now that Donald Trump is actually running for president — defying many predictions that he could never tolerate that level of public scrutiny — it is time for a closer look at his career. Beyond the bizarre bluster of his Castro-style announcement speech, The Donald has a lot of tough questions to answer.

Trump’s premier chronicler is none other than Wayne Barrett, my close friend and former Village Voice colleague, whose brilliant 1992 book Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, examined in withering detail the panoply of federal and state subsidies, tax breaks, and dubious political relationships (mostly with Democrats) that formed the foundation of his fortune.

Of particular concern, given Trump’s casino and construction interests, are his enduring connections with organized crime, a subject thoroughly explored by Barrett. As summarized by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wayne’s book asserted that “throughout his adult life, Donald Trump has done business with major organized-crime figures and performed favors for their associates.”

Key among these assertions is that in 1983, after Trump had obtained a casino license, he met with Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, head of the Genovese crime family, at the Manhattan townhouse of Roy Cohn, a lawyer who represented both men. The book cites an unnamed eyewitness as its source.

Other casino executives have had their licenses revoked or were denied a license just for being photographed in the company of major organized-crime figures, including Salerno.

At the time of the purported meeting, Trump was using a concrete company called S&A to build his Trump Plaza condos in Manhattan, according to federal court records cited in the book. S&A was controlled by Salerno and Paul Castellano, then head of New York’s Gambino crime family, according to those same records.

The book alleges numerous other dealings that Trump had with officials of mob-controlled concrete firms and with mob-influenced unions, and often cites government documents and interviews with named individuals.

Trump’s dealings with such figures have persisted long after the death of Cohn, who was among his closest friends as well as his attorney. In 2011, Barrett returned to this troubling topic for The Daily Beast:

In addition to being a television personality, Trump makes a lot of his money these days licensing his name for various hotel and condo projects, not to mention mattress and vodka brands. His most frequent partner in the condo/hotel deals—some of which have become actual projects and some of which haven’t—has been a small development firm called the Bayrock Group, which was headquartered in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in 2005 when the partnership began…Two days before Trump’s 2007 deposition in the O’Brien case, however, The New York Times broke a story about a top Bayrock executive, Felix Sater (aka Satter). Sater had gone to prison for plunging the stem of a wine glass into a commodity broker’s face in a bar fight. He’d also narrowly averted jail a second time, when he was named an “ unindicted co-conspirator” in a massive federal fraud case in 2000. Sater cooperated in this probe of a $40 million stock swindle, which resulted in 19 guilty pleas and the conviction of six mobstersincluding the nephew of Carmine “the Snake” Persico and the brother-in-law of Sammy “the Bull” Gravano.

The narrative continues downhill from there. When the late Rep. Geraldine Ferraro made history as the first woman on a major-party ticket in 1984, the political press followed Barrett’s lead in a scorching examination of her family’s mob ties. Will they do the same with Trump?

Photo: Donald Trump addresses CPAC 2015 (Michael Vadon via Flickr)

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Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • bernieo

    They aren’t willing to examine Jeb’s crooked business associates like Miguel Recarey who had strong ties to Santos Trafficante and who embezzled millions from Medicare it Camillo Padreda who bilked HUD or terrorist Orlando Bosch so why would they scrutinize Trump’s crooked associates?

  • Susan

    Nope. They also won’t tackle the lack of transparency of the Bush Foundation, Jeb’s flaunting of campaign finance laws, Republican’s plans for eliminating Social Security, etc., or their voting record, in general, that only benefits the very wealthy. They vote against Veteran’s benefits, take security funds from embassies which are subsequently attacked, speak at Koch conventions. None of it is publicized by the press. No one knows the deficit is more than cut in half. We won’t hear much about the latest Al Qaida leader being killed so old white men who are in the pocket of military businesses can go on Meet the Press and speak about the failure of President Obama’s war on ISIS. Hillary’s feet are held to the fire and Bernie is ignored. The MSM is a propaganda machine for the wealthy only.

    • Daniel Jones

      Taking security funds from embassies while screaming about an attack on an embassy is the height of hypocrisy.. for the moment.

      Wait for it–it’ll get worse.

  • Independent1

    Wow!! And the GOP Clown Car gets one more un-electable potential candidate bigger. Is the RNC working to book Yankee Stadium for their GOP presidential debates??

    The Donald, is only a momentary curiosity, as I understand, Mitt the-snake-oil-salesman Romney is thinking about joining the Clown car again soon. Maybe Mitt thinks it will give him an opportunity to debate Hilary; and once again he will be able to appear to many clueless Americans to even win debates against her; by him spending another 7 hours or so over 3 debates without ever once completing a sentence in the debates that doesn’t include a number of outright lies, distortions of the truth or fabrications of reality. Mitt threw out so many lies and fabrications in his 3 debates against Obama, that my 8-digit calculator couldn’t count high enough to end up with an accurate total!!!!!

  • Dominick Vila

    The best approach to deal with Donald is to ignore him.

  • nightsong

    DONALD TRUMP 2016, or sooner.

    • E.L. Woody

      for prison or what?