Trump’s reason for appropriating U.S. secrets is far beyond simply hiding evidence.
Trump thought he could take his lifelong criminal behavior into the Presidency and not suffer the consequences — as he has done his entire life. Trump has survived without being imprisoned by draining investigative and prosecutorial resources with endless appeals and paying millions of dollars in tribute (fines) instead of going to jail. He made it too expensive for prosecutors to pursue, so they settled for massive fines. It’s a strategy taught to him by Roy Cohen and his stable of NYC crime bosses.
We’ll look at a brief history of Trump’s documented lifetime of criminality, including deep ties with Russian Oligarch Mobsters over decades, allowing him to think that he could also get away with it as President. Then we’ll explain why Trump is holding classified information for his own purposes.
If you’re already familiar with Trump’s history of illegality and don’t want to read about a few choice examples of the following:
- how Trump began his life of criminality at the age of thirteen,
- how Roy Cohn and his stable of NYC mobsters groomed Trump,
- how Trump admitted to using bribery as a strategy,
- how Rod Rosenstein curtailed the Mueller Investigation and the FBI’s investigation,
- how Trump’s Taj Mahal was the Russian Mob’s favorite East Coast destination
- how Scotland is considering investigating Trump for money laundering
- how Trump recruited Russian media consultants wo work on his 2016 campaign
- and how Trump University and the Trump Foundation were shuttered by the court.
1) Trump’s life of criminality began when he was thirteen years old and continued throughout his life.
Author & PBS Public Affairs Journalist Gwen Ifill
hosted this program on Trump’s formative years.
Researchers and historians use the term “troubled teen” to describe Trump’s adolescent years. His first known criminal activity at the age of thirteen is why Fred Christ Trump sent him away to military school for his antisocial scofflaw behavior. Trump’s collection of illegal switchblades was the last straw. If Fred Trump had not intervened, he foresaw his son ending up in Juvie Hall for criminal violations. The New York law stated at the time: “…possession of such a knife is considered fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class A misdemeanor.”
Even at the age of thirteen, Trump escaped the consequences of his illegal behavior.
2) Disgraced and disbarred Fixer Attorney for the NYC Mob Roy Cohn and his stable of New York crime bosses taught Trump everything he knows.
At age 24, Trump’s started his first job out of college as the President of his father’s company. Two years later, the DOJ sued the company, as well as Fred Trump and DJ Trump personally for violation of the Fair Housing Act, a Civil Rights violation. Among other things, “…Trump employees marked minority applicants with codes, such as ‘No. 9’ or ‘C’ for ‘colored’ so that they’re applications would be rejected.
Trump introduced himself to gadfly Roy Cohn at Le Club, where he told Cohn about the DOJ lawsuit. The two clicked immediately. They became professional and social friends hanging out together at 21 Club, the Four Seasons, and Le Club. Cohn introduced Trump to his stable of NYC mob clients, and they helped groom him in the ways and means of organized crime operations. Trump used to hang out with them as well, some frequently some intermittently. Trump has been photographed with Carlo Gambino (Gambino Crime Family), Tony Salerno (Genovese Family ), Carmine Galante (Bonanno Family), and John Gotti (Gambino Family). For years, Cohn and his stable taught Trump how to stay out of jail as a consequence of his illegal activity.
Cohn introduced Roger Stone to Donald Trump when Stone was working on Reagan’s campaign.
When Stone was running Reagan’s campaign in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, he met Cohn and asked his advice about getting office space. Cohn said “You need to see Donald Trump. I will get you in, but then you are on your own.” When Stone met with Trump, he said “O.K., we are in. Go see my father.” Fred Trump gave Stone $200,000 — 200 $1,000 checks because, at the time, $1,000 was the maximum donation. Remember, Fred Trump was likewise a scofflaw and mobster-like with his business and personal dealings. True to his father’s legacy, Trump is proof positive that The Turd Never Falls Far From the Azzhole.
Author Sam Roberts explained the three major points of influence Cohn had on Trump to writer-at-large Marie Brenner, who reported in 2017 on Cohn and Trump’s “ruthless symbiosis”, and how it changed America. “Roy was a master of situational immorality…. He worked with a three-dimensional strategy, which was:
(1) Never settle, never surrender.
(2) Counterattack, countersue immediately.
(3) No matter what happens, no matter how deeply into the muck you get, claim victory and never admit defeat.”
As columnist Liz Smith noted, “Donald lost his moral compass when he made an alliance with Roy Cohn.”
Trump never wavered from using Cohn’s three-dimensional strategy. Trump cherished Cohn’s mentorship so dearly that after Cohn’s death, whenever Trump got into a legal bind, he was known to lament, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” He said it when Jeff Sessions refused to un-recuse himself.
3) Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines and restitution for a long rap sheet of illegality but managed to stay out of jail.
In addition to the aforementioned civil rights violations, Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in fines for a broad range of illegality such as civil rights violations, illegal campaign donations, stock fraud, money laundering, and charity fraud.
Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein prematurely curtailed the investigations into Trump’s financial entanglements with Russian Oligarch Mobsers conducted by the FBI and the Mueller Investigation.
Maybe he was trying to make peace with Trump after offering to wear a wire in the White House to record Trump. According to the NY Times, DOJ officials said that the Justice Dept. Never Fully Examined Trump’s Ties to Russia. Rosenstein shut down the FBI investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russia that may have constituted a security threat. Rosenstein never told FBI director McCabe which led him to believe that Mueller was handling that part of the investigation. Mueller wasn’t, of course, so he assumed that the FBI was investigating. A summary of the Times article by NY1 succinctly describes it in 4 bullet points:
What You Need To Know
- Rosenstein told Mueller not to investigate counterintelligence matters involving Trump and Russia, The New York Times reported
- The FBI did not know about Rosenstein’s order and believed Mueller’s team was conducting a counterintelligence inquiry, the report said
- Rosenstein reportedly believed the FBI lacked sufficient reason to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia
- The report indicates there has never been a complete investigation into whether Trump’s links to Russia pose a national security threat
The Mueller Investigation was highly successful in gathering evidence that indicted many people. But Rosenstein’s obstruction guaranteed that getting Trump investigated was a bust.
Trump’s notorious Taj Mahal Casino was fined over 10 million dollars by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) for over 100 counts of money laundering.
Trump’s Fixer Attorney, Michael Cohen told us under oath that The Trump Organization is a very closely held corporation, and nothing of consequence happens without Trump’s direct orders or approval. So, who was Trump laundering money for?
The book “Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America” tells us that Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino had become the Russian mob’s favorite East Coast destination.
Trump supporters will say the book is a Trump hit piece, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Only two or three pages mention Trump. The example below explains how the FBI was trying to locate a Russian Mobster named Vyacheslav Ivankov. You can read the entire excerpt below from this article by investigative journalist Seth Henna. Or you can read Pages 79 and 80 from the 175-page PDF of the book, which is freely available to read online.
“At first all we had was a name,” says the FBI’s James Moody. “We were looking around, looking around, looking around, and had to go out and really beat the bushes. And then we found out that he was in a luxury condo in Trump Towers” in Manhattan. But almost as soon as they found him, he disappeared again leaving nothing but vapor trails for theFBI to follow.
[A copy of Ivankov’s personal phone book, which was obtained by the author, included a working number for the Trump Organization’s Trump Tower Residence, and a Trump Organization office fax machine]…
Stasiuk picked up Ivankov’s trail at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, the Trump-owned casino that the real estate magnate boasted was the “eighth wonder of the world.” The Taj Mahal had become the Russian mob’s favorite East Coast destination. As with other high rollers, scores of Russian hoodlums received “comps” for up to $100,000 a visit for free food, rooms, champagne, cartons of cigarettes, entertainment, and transportation in stretch limos and helicopters. “
Many sources claim that Russians have secretly funded Trump’s projects, for example, Alan Lapidus, Trump’s former architect.
How Russian Money Helped Save Trump’s Business
— Foreign Policy Magazine
“He [Trump] could not get anybody in the United States to lend him anything. It was all coming out of Russia. His involvement with Russia was deeper than he’s acknowledged.” — Alan Lapidus, Trump’s former archtect.
It is also widely believed that Russian Oligarch Mobsters financed Trump’s prized Turnberry Golf Course in Aberdeen, Scotland.
In addition to Turnberry, there are other Trump projects under the microscope in Scotland. I’m not clear on the legal process in Scotland, but “The Ministers” declined to investigate Trump, so now it is left to the “Top Prosecutor”. Google searches tell us that Ministers are in political positions and the Top Prosecutor, formally the “Lord Advocate”, is akin to our Attorney General.
Scottish courts have rejected a legal bid to force lawmakers to investigate Donald Trump’s purchase of his two prized golf resorts in the country.
The nation’s top prosecutor will now have to decide whether to pursue an investigation into how the former president paid for his Trump Turnberry course in 2014, and Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen eight years earlier…
…However, in a written judgment released on Thursday, Judge Craig Sandison ruled Scottish ministers had acted lawfully in declining to take the investigation.
A 900+ Senate Report details how while Trump was in Moscow, he recruited the same Russian Bot Developer and Media Consultants that ran the Influencer Operation for the GRU during the 2014 annexation of Crimea. He was introduced to them by Russian Oligarch Mobster Aras Agalarov and his son Emin.
The name Emin Agalrov might be familiar to you. According to published emails, Emin Agalarov and Bob Goldstone helped set up Trump Jr’s Russian Summit in Trump Tower with Paul Manafort, Clown Prince Jared, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and her entourage also in attendance.
Again, this isn’t a Democratic hit piece. It’s all in the 900+ page Senate Report submitted by the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee in November 2020 when Trump was still President and Republicans held the House Majority. Pages 261, 267, 268, 395, and 396 of the report are very interesting and revealing. Just a taste:
[Senate Report p. 395]
“Klyushina and Klyushin had some interaction with Trump at several points throughout the day”…
[Senate Report p. 396]
“Klyushin and Klyushina, along with Klyushin’s associate Konstantin Rykov, were ACTIVE regarding the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign“…
Trump admitted to using bribery as part of his go-to strategy to get favors from politicians.
“I gave to many people before this — before two months ago I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me.
— DJ Trump, August 2015 Republican primary debate
Trump’s University was shut down, resulting in 25 million dollars in fines and restitution.
Weeks after Trump said he would never settle the Trump University lawsuit, and immediately after he won the 2016 election, Trump settled the Trump U lawsuit for a whopping $25 million. While it was only a civil case and not a criminal case, he was afraid of possible criminal liability if they dug deeper. Two examples follow:
1) Trump gave Pam Bondi a $25,000 campaign donation. Thirty days later, she conveniently dropped the Florida investigation into Trump’s fraudulent university. Trump was never investigated for the blatant bribery that occurred. Trump wrote the donation check illegally from his fraudulent foundation account, an illegal campaign donation for which he paid a fine. But that was only part of why he was concerned.
2) In states like California, it is a criminal violation to defraud the elderly and veterans. Trump was afraid that if the California lawsuit continued, it would dredge up evidence that the prosecutors could use, rather than expending their resources to investigate and prosecute. Making investigations and prosecutions as costly as possible is a tried and true Roy Cohn strategy. We know that Trump had to be concerned about the California law because a Trump U manager testified under oath that Trump U salespeople “…preyed upon the elderly…”
“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme,” Mr. Schnackenberg wrote in his testimony, “and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”
“I believe most of the instructors, mentors and coaches had very little or no experience in the real estate techniques they were teaching,” said Schnackenberg. “I received complaints from Trump University students about this….In my experience, virtually all students who purchased a Trump University seminar were dissatisfied with the program they purchased. To my knowledge, not a single consumer who paid for a Trump University seminar program went on to successfully invest in real estate based upon the techniques they were taught.”
The Trump Foundation was shut down for charity fraud.
Trump used his Trump Foundation as a slush fund for personal financial benefit. It was a private charity that Trump used to launder money primarily to commit tax fraud.
“This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests… a shocking pattern of illegality… willful and repeated… Mr. Trump alone made all of the decisions related to the Foundation.”
— Former NY AG Barbara Underwood.
Once again, Trump did not go to jail. He paid massive fines and the foundation was shuttered. No one was prosecuted despite Underwood claiming, “This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone… We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.” The only other penalty that was applied prohibited the Trump family from sitting on the board of any charity whatsoever in the future.
These are some of the reasons why the foundation was shuttered:
7 counts of diverting business and personal income (tax fraud), including a $5 million payment from one of Trump’s largest campaign donors and long-time friends, Vince McMahon.
10 counts of illegal foundation disbursements, including $158,000 to settle a lawsuit in which Trump reneged on paying a contestant for winning a Hole-in-One contest, $107,000 for a luxury trip to Paris, and $100,000 to settle a Town of Palm Beach lawsuit against Mar-a-Lago.
7 counts of charity fraud, including false claims of grants to the Red Cross, mishandling of funds raised for veterans’ causes, failure to make pledged 9/11 grants, and solicitation of donations without a license.
When Trump decided to run for office, he never realized how the scrutiny on his business and personal interests would organically skyrocket as it does with all Presidents. In Trump’s case, plenty of his previous illegal antics resurfaced, creating more suspicion and more scrutiny. Trump keeps claiming that he is the victim of “witch hunts”. If he is, you should hire the investigators and prosecutors as hunting guides, because they keep getting their bag limits of witches on a regular basis.
Trump became increasingly desperate as investigations piled on top of him during his presidency.
Trump simply wasn’t able to get away with the level of corruption and illegality that he had gotten away with before he was elected, no matter how hard he tried, and he tried very hard. With every failed attempt, he had to get even more aggressive in trying to cover up for the previous illegality that was failing in its objectives. The old tricks that Cohn taught him no longer worked. That’s one of the reasons he handed out so many pardons to his cronies who were guilty of significant crimes. Trump’s Pardonpalooza was a huge collection of quid pro quo.
Just look at the list of attorneys Trump used to execute his plans. As with deceased Roy Cohn, they’re involved in Trump’s criminality. All but Cohen are caught up in the Jan 6th conspiracy investigation, and conspiracy is a far more serious charge that most of the 880+ insurrectionists are facing or have faced.
Michael Cohen: Trump’s Fixer Attorney.
Disposition: Disgraced, disbarred, jailed for executing Trump’s orders to pay Stormy Daniels.
Rudy Giuliani: Trump Propagandist Attorney, and co-conspirator in voter fraud investigation.
Disposition: Disgraced; law license suspended; probably soon to be disbarred; Defendant in $1 Billion+ lawsuit.
Kraken Powell: Trump Propagandist Attorney, and co-conspirator in voter fraud investigation.
Disposition: Disgraced; sanctioned; probably soon to be disbarred; defendant in $1 Billion+ lawsuit.
Lin Wood: Trump Propagandist Attorney, and co-conspirator in voter fraud investigation.
Disposition: Disgraced; probably soon to be disbarred; to fund his own defense, Wood tried to claw back $2 million that he raised for Rittenhouse; defendant in $1 Billion+ lawsuit.
John Eastman: Trump Propagandist Attorney, and co-conspirator in voter fraud investigation.
Disposition: Disgraced, subpoenaed, soon to be disbarred; ethics complaint filed with the CA Bar Association by 1,300 attorneys.
By the end of his Presidency, Trump knew his risk of prosecution was getting very high.
The only defense Trump had used in his years as President, was obstruction of justice. Mueller told us all about it in his report. Although Trump claims the report exonerated him, Mueller states differently in the obstruction of justice investigation:
“Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider”
— Robert Mueller, House Judiciary and Intelligence Committee hearing.
“The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
— Mueller Investigation Report
Trump’s obstruction of justice took three forms.
- Blanket Immunity: The Supreme Court shot this down.
- Executive Privilege: This worked like a charm while Trump was President. He thwarted investigations and prosecutions for himself and his cronies for years.
- 5th Amendment Privilege: This is the only defense that Trump has left. It’s a far cry from Executive Privilege, as it implies guilt of consciousness.
Knowing that his Executive Privilege was expiring, Trump became increasingly desperate to get elected for a second term toward the end of his Presidency.
That’s why Trump got so criminally reckless with his Big Lie and tried so many illegal angles to unwind the election and remain President. When he failed in getting the states to withhold certification, he attempted to get audits commissioned through lawsuits. When the audits failed to declare him the winner, Trump attempted to coach election officials to “find” votes for him. When that didn’t work, he tried to get the DOJ to send out a letter saying the election was under investigation. When that didn’t work, Trump attempted to get alternative electors to certify the results in order to delay the January 6th count. When that wasn’t working, he fell back to his last resort plan that started a month earlier, inciting an insurrection and interfering with the functioning of the US government.
Trump still tries to play the Executive Privilege card. He has been able to get the appeals court to grant him appeal hearings which delay the inevitable result. However, it is unfathomable that the Supreme Court would honor Trump’s Executive Privilege claims. Why? Because Biden has already declared them no longer valid. I can’t imagine even Trump’s appointed Justices giving authority to a prior President that supersedes the authority of a current President. That seems too authoritarian even for Trump’s Supreme Court.
4) Why did Trump need to appropriate so many US classified documents?
Trump will do anything to stay out of jail.
As these many investigations run the course to their conclusions, additional information will be discovered and revealed. Four months ago, the Jan 6 Committee was hinting that there was a lot of incriminating evidence identified that they would release to the public during the hearings. They delivered beyond expectations. Based solely on what we know now, Trump and many of his cronies should be declared guilty of several infractions. The Committee has hinted again at releasing even more incriminating evidence this fall.
It seems obvious that Trump did know or should have known that he legitimately lost the election. That makes him a co-conspirator.
It seems inevitable that when law enforcement is breathing down Trump’s neck with cuffs in their hands, Trump will try to avoid going to jail. Sure, Trump probably has a cache of documents that could implicate him in criminal activity — that’s the reason most think Trump took the documents to Mar-a-Logo.
I speculate that the real reason is far more sinister than simply hiding evidence.
When things start getting dicey, Trump will board a helicopter to a Russian or Saudi yacht sitting offshore outside US territorial waters. From there, he will self-exile to Moscow or Riyadh. Putin or MBS will gladly help take care of Trump’s basic needs.