Threatening, bribing, cajoling, suing, harassing, and delaying were all tactics used by Trump to steal the 2020 election, but people watching the Congressional hearings forget that the story of Trump’s corruption began in the early-1970s.
Trump has never changed.
Since the 1970s, when Trump entered the real estate development and rental business with his father, Fred Trump, the family has used loan shark collector gutter tactics to harass anyone who disagreed with them or stood in their way to make money.
To do this, the Trump family used threats and intimidation, and also through their employees who carried the messages or engaged in threats themselves.
The Trump family used these tactics in their daily real estate business and later in construction, marketing, branding, and politics.
How Trump escaped prosecution and conviction for almost 50 years is a study in ineffective, feckless judicial enforcement. But it is also the story of a more insidious corrupt culture of white-shoe wealth practices and how social connections work in Manhattan.
In that society, prosecutors, defense lawyers, bankers, educated professionals looking to make big money, disguised grifters, and well-dressed sycophants all mix for mutual benefit.
In this corrupt society, which certainly is not restricted to Manhattan but is indigenous in the wealthy areas throughout the US, wealth buys justice.
Take the case of Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased sex ring operator, who served his jail sentence in Palm Beach, Florida, with no restrictions, even though he was ordered to remain in his home. Cohen went about his daily business even as Palm Beach County Rick Bradshaw looked the other way as Epstein ignored the order for his in-house detention.
Trump Corruption Threatens Innocent People
Another example comes from Michael Cohen, the convicted, disbarred, and disgraced Trump lawyer, who has since repented.
In Cohen’s own words, before a congressional committee, he was asked by Representative Jackie Speier (D-Cal.) whether Trump ever asked him to “threaten an individual or entity on his behalf?” Cohen said, “quite a few times.” But there was more.
“When Speier pressed him for number, Cohen said during his decade as Trump’s lawyer, Trump asked him to threaten around 500 people with lawsuits,” according to PBS. This included reporters or anyone who challenged Trump. In January 2019, Cohen also said that Trump threatened his family, just as Trump threatened election officials in Georgia and Arizona and poll workers in Georgia.
Trump’s Sick Version of Doing Business
In addition to threats, Trump mastered the use of lawsuits and delaying tactics to fend off fines, lawsuits, and investigations.
In 1973, the Civil Rights Division of the US Justice Department investigated the Trump real estate business for deliberately discriminating against Blacks and Puerto Ricans. In typical Trump business practice, Trump and his father Fred denied the charges, but FBI files from a 1974 interview found that Trump was lying.
Interviews with a former doorman at a Trump property in Brooklyn “said that his bosses told him that if a black person came to the location and inquired about an apartment for rent, he should “tell them that the rent was twice as much as it was so that he could not afford the apartment,” according to NBC News.
But that’s just the beginning of the Trump corruption story. To fight the charges, the Trumps countersued the US Justice Department but then agreed in 1975, without admitting any guilt, not admitting any responsibility, “to furnish the New York Urban League with a list of all apartment vacancies every week, for two years.”
Trump Delays the Feds for a Decade
But the Trumps never complied with the court order, nor did the courts ever pursue the matter.
“In 1978, the government filed another motion against the family, this time alleging that they were not complying with the 1975 deal. And by 1983, the situation had not improved dramatically, with The Times reporting that at least 95 percent of two Trump properties were populated by whites only,” according to NBC News.
Trump used delaying tactics against the US federal judicial system for a decade. During that time, the US Justice Department did nothing to prosecute, expedite or demand answers from the Trump organization about the racial discrimination court orders.
In addition to this single continuous racial discrimination lawsuit, Trump has been sued by contractors, vendors, suppliers, lawyers, architects, and others in about 3,500 lawsuits. Of these, Trump or one of his companies were plaintiffs in 1,900; defendants in 1,450; and bankruptcy, third party, or other in 150. Trump was named in at least 169 suits in federal court, according to Wikipedia.
This is how a modern crime family does business. Trump’s political career is just an extension of his business career and it shows the deficiencies in the ethical standards of the white-shoe, educated, professionals who dealt with Trump, including bankers, lawyers, and top executives who knowingly associated with a thug.
This includes Trump’s bankers at Deutsche Bank and the forced resignation of Rosemary Vrablic, a managing director, who was ousted after not disclosing a real estate deal with Trump. Over time, the bank lent Trump $2 billion at a time when most other banks refused to lend to the company. When investigators wanted to look into the Trump loans, Trump sued to block them, afraid that the bank would release the company’s federal tax returns.
Deutsche Bank has attracted the attention of international law enforcement and financial regulators. The bank was so interesting to US investigators is that the bank was more than just making loans to Trump. They were his enabler to international schemes and new foreign, under-the-radar business contacts.
According to a detailed article, “The Money Behind Trump’s Money” by David Enrich, in the New York Times Magazine:
“One reason all these files could be so illuminating is that the bank’s relationship with Trump extended well beyond making simple loans. Deutsche Bank managed tens of millions of dollars of Trump’s personal assets. The bank also furnished him with other services that had not previously been reported: providing sophisticated financial instruments that shielded him from risks and outside scrutiny and introducing him to wealthy Russians interested in investing in Western real estate. If Trump cheated on his taxes, Deutsche Bank would probably know. If his net worth is measured in millions, not billions, Deutsche Bank would probably know. If he secretly got money from the Kremlin, Deutsche Bank would probably know.”
In short, people and institutions who deal in corrupt money and business practices can easily find each other in Manhattan.
NBC’s Sick Joke on the American People
NBC also plays a huge role in foisting Trump, the disgraced businessman, onto the naïve American public. In “The Apprentice, which first aired in 2004, NBC made a reality show about a fake, successful businessman.
The show became popular because Americans have difficulty understanding how vast amounts of money are made. So, without understanding the inner workings of lending, extensive bank relationships, financial engineering, or business law, everyday people think they can get rich quickly in stock or cryptocurrency speculation. Since most Americans work for a salary in regular jobs, it is hard to explain why someone can become a multi-millionaire or billionaire and others never will. That mystery is part of the attraction.
Maybe it’s luck. Perhaps it’s connections. Or, maybe the rich have a special intangible gift they will magically bestow on others if they get close.
That helps explain why wannabees or people stuck in boring professions gravitate to the people with big money. John D. Rockefeller, the nation’s richest man at the time, used to pass out dimes to his fans who took the coins because they were good luck charms that would make them rich too. Almost 100 years later, a greedy lawyer, Michael Cohen, said he worked for Trump because he saw him as an idol who would reward him. That was a big mistake, Cohen later said.
Are Americans Attracted to Trump’s Corruption?
People attracted to Trump thought he had exceptional analytical business skills even though his companies declared corporate bankruptcy four times (in 1991, 1992, 2004, and 2009). According to Forbes, all these bankruptcies were connected to over-leveraged casino and hotel properties in Atlantic City. These were corporate bankruptcies, not personal bankruptcies, which is why Trump kept his net worth high.
In the same Forbes article, Trump said he and other moguls, such as Leon Black, Carl Icahn, and Henry Kravis, used Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings to restructure debt. The difference with Trump is that thanks to the practical joke played on Americans by NBC, which created the Apprentice TV show, Trump was presented as a successful, tough businessman.
When Trump companies went bankrupt, creditors and bondholders were stuck with Trump because he had his name on the properties. That branding had value, so no matter how evil Trump was to creditors, they were forced to acknowledge that his name still attracted gamblers.
But at least one lawyer quoted in the article, Edward Weisfelner, a partner at New York firm Brown Rudnick, had insight into Trump’s business and later his political standard of ethics, however low.
“There’s such a thing as good faith,” he said, referring to Trump’s misuse of bankruptcy laws. “The purpose of bankruptcy laws is to protect companies, their customers, and employees, give them a second chance, and treat claim holders fairly. Suppose bankruptcy is used to artificially elevate your equity interests above legitimate creditor claims and avoid obligations. In that case, you could argue that’s not what the laws were designed to do,” according to Weisfelner.
Trump: The Manhattan Business Sociopath
When people write Trump’s story, it will be clear he was an American business and political sociopath. He was an expert at gaming the capitalist system, and a master in using the nation’s inept and grossly compromised judicial, political, and banking systems. As a symbol of vulgar wealth, complete with gold-plated sinks, thrones, porn stars, a jet, yachts, helicopters, a dilapidated casino, a shady bank, and unnamed foreign investors lurking in the shadows, Trump’s unexpected entry into politics is a nadir in US history.
When he flagrantly stole the progressive political message from Bernie Sanders, Trump combined his perverted image of opportunistic wealth with the fake promise that he would elevate working people to a better life. All lies.
His lies included an appeal to Evangelicals that he would cut their megachurches in on substantial tax breaks and advance Christianity so that they could celebrate Christmas without any interference.
In one of Trump’s most cynical and transparent lies, he promised to repeal the preferential and lucrative carried interest tax loophole that benefits hedge funds, real estate developers, and private equity firms. These were all vast donors to his presidential campaigns, and their big money is being used to fund right-wing, anti-democratic, and libertarian causes worldwide. This flagrant lie aimed to shoot an arrow against his privileged, tax-dodging friends.
So, as Americans watch and reflect on the insurrection-based Congressional hearings, they will see Trump’s old history in business now being replayed in a political setting.
In his business and political actions, Trump has used threats of violence, links to violent thugs, lies, deception, and degradation of anyone who opposed his attempt to steal the 2020 election. They also should remember that Trump has been a partner with the devil since the mid-1990s when he entered the apartment rental business in Brooklyn with his father.
Like father-like son, the Trump family business is corrupt. They are repeat offenders in business, and now politics. If justice were blind, the Trump businesses would have ceased to exist or been radically curtailed. But exceptions are always made in a corrupt system.
This is why the American judicial and financial systems have rewarded the Trump businesses for continuing their deceptions and legal violations for almost 50 years without a significant penalty. It looks like this is the American way.