The Mysterious Connections Between Trump, Crypto, and QAnon

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Trump, crypto, and QAnon are the engines for disinformation, but who benefits from the chaos?

Given the long and twisted legal history, accompanied by Donald Trump’s questionable business practices, political commentators have repeatedly asked: How has Trump gotten away with flaunting the law for about 50 years?

This is a national mystery.  Most Americans know that if they tried a fraction of what Trump is accused of doing, they would have been convicted and jailed.  But Trump has escaped jail for about five decades.  How does he do it?

The Washington commentators don’t have an answer.  There are certain things they cannot say publicly in the media since ethics and the law have some restraints on offering unprovable theories.  Still, the average person knows something is amiss.  Is it because rich white men who are politically connected rarely get caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced?  Or, is Trump’s get-out-of-jail-free card the essential perk of a corrupt Manhattan society where everyone profits in some way from the spoils of corruption?

Or, is it connected to the biggest mysteries of the last few decades, namely, that despite the unprecedented amount of knowledge and research capabilities available to billions of people via the Web, no one knows who invented crypto or who is behind QAnon?

This anonymity is astounding since the persons or groups responsible for these two global destabilizing currency and disinformation campaigns could make billions in royalties if they claimed credit for these inventions.  But no one has done so.  Maybe it’s because “state actors,” in the words of intelligence officials, are behind these creations.

Would China, state-sponsored criminal gangs, Russia, or North Korea benefit from crypto and QAnon disinformation?

Who gains when citizens of established democracies have populations who start distrusting their governments and institutions, the ultimate goals of crypto and disinformation?

The answer is simple: the world’s democracies.

The reason is that democratic countries are less likely to start a war with other democratic countries, according to presidential historian Lindsay Chevinsky. If nations share the same political goals and institutions that give average citizens equal access to the political structure, they can make needed government changes via legislatures and voting. If chaos reigns in a democracy, its institutions fail to work, and that benefits enemy nations intent on conquest.

Connecting the Dots of Chaos

For anyone who connects the dots, it looks like Trump, QAnon, and crypto are all part of the same spearhead to disrupt the U.S. democracy and replace it with the authoritarian plan Trump has already pubic announced.

Trump’s well-publicized actions to break the law are all linked to his attempts to damage democracy. Crypto and QAnon add fuel to the disorder.

“Trust in government increases compliance with a wide range of public policies, including public health responses, such as vaccinations, adherence to tax laws, political participation, social cohesiveness, and Confidence in institutional legitimacy, as pointed out by Maryland Daily Record columnist Robert Pawlicki.

In Pawlicki’s single list, we find the reasons why Trump and his enablers pushed a national anti-COVID vaccination policy, evaded taxes, challenged the IRS, U.S. Justice Department, judges, the top Pentagon leadership, Democrats and Republicans who opposed his policies, stigmatized minority groups, and challenged the entire national voting and president affirmation process.

This onslaught of government distrust and Trump’s well-publicized and constant legal-political drama has worn down Americans.  Tensions and distrust of government are high.

  • “Just 20% say they trust the government in Washington to do the right thing just about always or most of the time – a sentiment that has changed very little since former President George W. Bush’s second term in office,” according to the Pew Research Center.
  • A 2021 survey by Gallup found that “trust in the federal government’s handling of international problems has fallen nine percentage points since last year to a record-low 39%, and now matches the level of trust for its handling of domestic problems — one of only a few times that has occurred.”
  • The same Gallup survey said, “Confidence in the three branches of the federal government is low on a relative basis. Although a 54% majority of U.S. adults trust the judicial branch, this is down 13 points compared with 2020.”
  • The ethical problems of some Supreme Court judges have fueled questions about the pay-to-play behavior of the nation’s top judges. This possibly unethical behavior “indicates a larger political trend — the declining trust and confidence in U.S. institutions writ large coupled with Democrats’ exasperation on a host of perceived political injustices,” according to National Public Radio.

And what happens to why Americans distrust their government’s ability to solve problems?

They search for political pretenders who come forward with false promises of being able to provide more light on the other side of the hill.  This includes Evangelical Christians, who are told that they will not be able to practice their religion in the future and fall into this group.  People who are afraid that an immigrant horde is coming to take their jobs.  Minorities who have been victimized by income inequality for generations but are promised a new beginning.  People who are told that Democrats are socialists or communists join in.

But many other Americans don’t have the energy and motive to buy into these false promises and disinformation.  This may explain why suicide rates have increased.  In 2021, the rate increased by 4% to 14.1, the most significant one-year increase since 2001, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

So, how did Trump get away without being held unaccountable for his misdemeanors and felonies over the past 50 years?  If we have to pick a starting point, we can arguably mark it as when he met his despicable lawyer and mentor, Roy Cohen.

Trump and His Despicable Lawyer

One of Trump’s earliest mentors, whom he met as he accumulated widespread notoriety in Manhattan, which has its grey criminal civilization, was the lawyer Roy Cohn (1927-1986).

Trump and the despicable Cohn

Cohn was the closest homosexual who gained fame as the legal advisor to the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy during the anti-communist hearings in the spring of 1954.  Cohn then became the lawyer of gangsters and shady white-collar executives while socializing with celebrities.  Cohn also mentored Trump on how to evade the law, stonewall the courts, play the media, feed the naïve public favorable stories of his exploits, and chisel contractors and other vendors.

Cohen knew the court system’s legal, political, and social mechanics and how they could be gamed to benefit Trump.  Cohen advised Trump and watched him enter Manhattan business and social society like a human cancer cell.

This part of the story is well known, and it continues to play out today, about 50 years after Trump implemented Cohen’s plan to capitalize on a perverted Manhattan society, one that values superficiality, access to money (real or illusionary), societal status, materialism, bribery, and willing media manipulation.

This sick scenario is the standard engine, and money keeps it going as the world’s oldest perpetual motion machine.  And this is where Trump, QAnon, and cryptocurrency show their commonalities.

The Crypto Perpetual Sucker Machine

The best example of the duplicity and hypocrisy of crypto and Trump comes from a quote from Jamie Dimon, the chairman of Citibank’s $1.71 billion bank and investment firm.

Dimon is regularly called upon to provide opinions on the economy, political developments, and Fed policy.  When asked about the prospects for crypto and its role in contemporary finance, Dimon gave his honest response.

“Today, many households are entrusting their hard-earned savings to digital coins.  JPMorgan Chase, for example, is increasing its clients’ access to crypto funds, even as the CEO, Jamie Dimon, describes bitcoin as “worthless.”  

In this answer, Dimon says crypto investments are “worthless,” even as a department in his investment firm sells crypto to investors a few floors below Dimon’s executive offices at the fastest possible speed. 

This hypocrisy is profitable.  It is the same hypocrisy that has powered Trump’s rise, with the addition of Trump’s ringmaster antics, his racism, and crude jokes about anyone that threatens to pierce his thin veil of being a rational and savvy businessman.

Dimon, an exceptional business leader, should not be placed in the same space as Trump.  Dimon is the exact opposite of Trump.  But I use Dinon’s honest and accurate answer about crypto as a worthless investment to make another point.

Both Trump and crypto have the same purposes: both are designed to weaken the existing trust in established institutions.  Crypto wants to undermine central banks worldwide; Trump wants to undermine U.S. courts, their supporting legal system, and legislative bodies.

Trump and crypto have no problem laundering money and evading taxes.  Trump and crypto have no problem serving as conduits for facilitating and being used for illicit international cash flows.

Trump and crypto have no problem deceiving average voters and investors that there is some potential value to investing in their political and monetary futures.  Both Trump and crypto are two versions of Ponzi schemes, the old system in which new voters and investors are needed to prop up the voters, investors, and Trump supporters who have been sucked into his vortex in the January 6 insurrection attempt or who were convicted and sentenced for crimes done at Trump’s urging.

It’s not a bad record for Trump and crypto.  Both are dangerous to essential institutions in organized modern societies, institutions, and democracies.  The obvious problem is that both go unchecked.

Citibank and other investment firms offer crypto as a direct investment or in ETFs, even as most highly qualified professionals have shown that crypto is a Ponzi scheme and not an asset class.

The term “asset class” was fabricated to attract institutional money, and that money is supposed to be managed by more sophisticated and critical portfolio managers.  But educated people fall into the trap in the smoke and haze of the crypto and Trump hype.  Their boards of directors can ask why the fund is not invested in crypto, and to this, many timid managers will not say it is a roulette wheel-type bet but may say, “We’ll look into it.”

This is the same response educated voters say when they ask about Trump’s 90-plus indictments, convictions for rape, defamation, and other pending criminal actions, These educated people will not hire a man like Trump to be their dog walker.  Still, they would consider him a viable president.

The Media Enablers

Trump and crypto also have another nefarious common denominator: the broadcast and social media.  Trump was the darling of the Manhattan tabloid press.  He dated beautiful models, had a swingling bachelorhood in the swinging ’60 and ’70s, and made sexist comments.  All this made Trump quotable and photogenic.

When Trump announced he could build parts of decaying Manhattan faster and cheaper than city government, he became a populist hero who showed that civic government was untrustworthy, ineffective, and bloated.  Crypto is also used by people who want to bypass traditional channels to avoid taxes or accountability.  “One study found that around one in four bitcoin users and 46% of bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal activity.  This adds up to $76 billion in shady transactions.” Yes, that $76 billion.

The media and Trump also engaged in a symbiotic relationship to make big money.  When the NBC network signed Trump to be in The Apprentice, a “reality talent game show” aired from 2004 to 2017, it falsely promoted Trump’s business savvy.  In the process, it also perpetuated one of the most unethical journalistic frauds in history.

The reason is that any superficial investigation would have shown that Trump was a paper tiger in the business world and had numerous lawsuits pending against him when the show was being produced.

But the network didn’t care.  They mixed fiction and showmanship to create a false titan of industry to propel the illusion of capitalism that rich people are always the most intelligent people in the room.  This fallacy has persisted since the Robber Baron days of the 19th century.

After The Apprentice, Trump saw that he could easily manipulate the media.  In this 2016 presidential campaign, the cable network gave Trump millions in free air time as they anxiously waited for hours for his leased jet to land and his wrestling promoter-style tarmac address.

One estimate found that Trump got $4.96 billion in “free earned media in the year leading up to the presidential election, according to data from tracking firm mediaQuant.  He received $5.6 billion throughout his campaign, more than the combined number of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio.”

Another group, Media Matters, “estimated that Fox News alone gave Trump almost $30 million of free airtime last year.  That figure was based on Trump’s interview time on the network and the cost of buying equivalent advertising time.”

Why did this happen?  The media judged that Trump was viewed more as entertainment, or at best, a 21st-century Frankenstein posing as a buffoon political entertainer, a new type of creature that has never existed in any media advertising model.

Trump was an incarnation of the best TV promoters, such as Ron Popiel, the ShamWow guy, Billy Mays, and George Forman. 

Billy Mays, pitchman

The big difference was that Trump was selling the hottest political messages of the day, such as anti-immigration, anti-abortion, attacks on Christianity, the Replacement Theory, an impending invasion of immigrants from Mexico, and the old message of fear, imminent financial ruin, and uncontrolled crime. He also had an enabler: QAnon, an oddball source of sensational, dumb conspiracies, which first appeared in October 2017.

Crypto’s Anti-Establishment Message

While certainly not as well-developed as Trump’s messages of doom and invasion, crypto is also understood to be an anti-establishment currency.

Crypto is propped up by some greedy financial web and print outlets who report daily on events in the crypto world of non-fungible tokens.  There are new products and the inevitable debacle of failed crypto scandals (FTX, Mt Gox, Bitcoin Savings and Trust, Moopay, BitInstant, and Binance).  I wrote articles for websites that fueled some of these paid crypto endorsements because firms selling or trading crypto paid for links to pro-crypto articles.

This pay-to-play editorial model is the basis for many websites with headlines such as “The Top 5 Crypto Bets for 2024” or “7 Things You Must Know About Bitcoin Before You Invest.” These are often boilerplate articles, but they generate the money to pay freelancers who know the investment is a scam.

Lobbyists and Political Enablers

Crypto and Trump are also propped up because they have millions to pay lawyers (Trump) and lobbyists (the crypto industry) to promote their false stories in Washington, DC, and state legislatures.  Crypto lobbyists spent $21.6 million in 2022, according to OpenSecrets, with lobbying money coming from 56 firms in 2022.

Top Senators (former and current) have accepted crypto lobbying money or served as lobbyists for the industry without knowing how crypto or blockchain works.  This includes former Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Former Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.),  Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.), Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and Rep. Phil English (R-Pa.).  Open Secrets reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s s-aligned super-PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund, “received $1 million from Bankman-Fried just days before FTX declared bankruptcy.”  Knowing the facts makes no difference in much of Congress, but lobbying money talks, and that’s all that matters.

When the SEC and CFTC want to enact regulations regarding crypto trading or new products, the senators and Representatives are alerted that a rule is in the pipeline that must be opposed to keep the lobbying money flowing.  Similarly, Trump’s enablers in Congress are warned when a federal or state investigation is moving along which could convict or derail the Trump presidential campaign.  In both cases, millions of dollars are involved, and the enablers are alerted to put on their shows if they want to get paid.

Get Rich Quick Schemes and Violence

The other commonality between Trump and crypto is that both have followers who want to get rich quickly as they violate the establishment.  Like their leader, some Trump followers bask in his lawlessness and flouting of standard societal norms, sexual behaviors, and financial obligations.

In the unregulated and global crypto world, flaunting the system involves illegal activities on and off the black market, or as Tobias Sebastian Lim, CFA, puts it, “bad behavior tends to fester where capital is most unfettered.  One study found that around one in four Bitcoin users and 46% of Bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal activity.  This adds up to $76 billion in shady transactions.”

Anti-establishment behavior also includes violence.  Regarding the violence in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, a survey of 1,397 American voters by YouGov, a pollster, “found that more Republicans said they supported the actions of the pro-Trump extremists than opposed them (45% to 43% respectively).  In contrast, nearly every Democrat polled, and two out of three independents, said they opposed the rampage.”

E Pluribus Unum and the Three Horsemen of Chaos

This Latin phrase, E Pluribus Unum, is translated as “One out of many” or “One from many,” it is the traditional motto of the United States.  But as QAnon, Trump, and crypto have become part of the tattered fabric of America, this slogan is no longer valid.  Distrust, suspicion, violence, and hate are now prevalent.  This may be the ultimate goal of the Three Horsemen of Disinformation.

 

 

 

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Chuck Epstein has managed marketing communications and public relations departments for major global financial institutions and participated in the launch of industry-changing financial products. He also has written by-lined articles for over 50 publications, five books and served as editor and publisher of nation’s first newsletter on the topic of using the PC for personal investing and trading. (“Investing Online, 1994-1999). He also is a marketing consultant, writer and speaker on topics related to investor protection and opportunities in the very dynamic cannabis industry. He has held senior-level marketing, PR and communications positions at the New York Futures Exchange, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Lind-Waldock, Zacks Investment Research, Russell Investments and Principal Financial. He has won national awards from the Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) and his web site, www.mutualfundreform.com, was named best small blog in 2009 by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW).

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