July 2, 2017

The dark side of Donald Trump the election campaign ignored

David Cay Johnston began covering Donald Trump in the 1980s when he was working as the Atlantic City reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Johnston’s book, "The Making of Donald Trump," looks at a side of Trump seldom covered in the press: his ties to the mob, drug traffickers and felons. From a Democracy Now interview last August

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: David, I wanted to ask you about this issue which we discussed previously with Wayne Barrett, as well, on the issue of Donald Trump’s relationship to the mob and his connections over the years to mobsters. And you’ve also looked into that, as well.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yes, and it’s not just the traditional Mafia families in New York. First of all, Donald Trump’s father had a business partner who was a mob guy. I’m sure Wayne talked about that. But Donald has done business with people with the Russian mob. He’s done business with con artists. The guy who supplied his helicopters and managed his personal helicopter, called the Ivana, from his first wife back then, was a major cocaine trafficker, who actually handled the drugs. And after he went to prison, Donald wrote a letter pleading for mercy for him, so he got 18 months as the head of the ring. The little fish who delivered the drugs, they got 20 years. Donald continued to do business with him after he was indicted. Donald has done business all his life with mobsters and criminals, because it’s a way to make money.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Joseph Weichselbaum?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yes, that’s the guy. Joseph Weichselbaum is this mob associate. He once—he used to do Cigarette boat racing in Miami, and he once was—came in third, right behind Charles Keating, the infamous financier who ripped off people for a billion dollars. And Weichselbaum provided helicopters to the Trump Organization, even though there were better-capitalized, better-run companies. Donald rented an apartment to Weichselbaum and his brother under very unusual circumstances.

When Weichselbaum was indicted, it was for a drug operation that went from Miami to Ohio. When he agreed to plead guilty, the case was mysteriously moved to New Jersey. And who did it come before? Federal Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, Donald’s older sister. No one knows how this happened. Now, she removed herself from the case, but imagine, Amy, that you, or one of the listeners, you’re the chief judge, and the judge comes to you and says, "Oh, I can’t handle this case, because I fly in this drug trafficker’s helicopters. My husband flies in them every week. My children have flown in this drug trafficker’s helicopters." You know, it helps explain how this guy got a light sentence;;;;

AMY GOODMAN: You got a call from Donald Trump over this?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: I got a call related to this, yes. I wrote a piece for Politico magazine back in April about all of Donald Trump’s connections. And Donald finally called me. He’s had my home number for years. He’s called me at home in the past. And he said to me, "Well, you know, you’ve written a lot of things I like. But if I don’t like what you’re writing, I’m going to sue you." I said, "Well, Donald, you’re a public figure." In America, that means that he would have to prove that I deliberately, knowingly told a lie about him. And he said, "I know I’m a public figure, but I’ll sue you anyway." And it’s one of the reasons the news coverage of him has been so soft. He has threatened to sue everybody. That Politico piece that I wrote, I’ve been an investigative reporter for almost 50 years; I’ve never been lawyered like I was for that piece. And it didn’t have anything that hadn’t been published before. He has intimidated the news organizations, and they’re not willing to talk about that.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in your book, you go into a story, not about his father, who’s been well known and covered previously by other publications, but about his grandfather. Talk about Donald Trump’s grandfather.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Donald Trump’s grandfather, Frederick, when he turned 16 in 1885, was subject to mandatory military service in Germany, so he fled the country and came to America. And then he followed Horace Greeley’s advice: "Go West, young man." And he went into the whorehouse business. And he ran bordellos in Seattle, in Everett, Washington, and in the Yukon Territory, until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed up. He then took his fortune, went back to Germany,
married a young woman his mother didn’t approve of, came back to America. His wife didn’t like it. They went back to Germany. He figured, with all his money, he could buy his way in. And they said, "You’re a draft dodger. Get out," and sent him back to America.

AMY GOODMAN: And then, talk about his father, Fred Trump.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, Fred Trump, whose father died when he was 12 or 13 years old, was a very industrious guy. When he was 15 years old, he started a business—technically owned by his mother, because he couldn’t sign contracts—building garages in the outer boroughs of New York for these newfangled thing called automobiles. When the market collapsed because of the Great Depression, he invented one of the first grocery stores. People used to have clerks give them their canned goods and stuff. He opened one where you did your own, and then sold it for a profit.

He built housing during World War II for shipyard workers and is said to be the first person in line to get federal money to build worker housing. He was a profiteer. Dwight D. Eisenhower personally went into a rage over what he had done, how he’d ripped stuff off, and he had a creative explanation when he was called before the U.S. Senate to justify what he did. He said, "I didn’t profiteer. I didn’t take the money. It’s in the bank account." Strange way to think about things...

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And the issue of Donald Trump’s tax forms, that’s—this has continually come up over this campaign...

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yeah. Donald Trump, we know, paid no federal income taxes in 1978, 1979—he and I had lunch and talked about it once—in 1984 and in the 1990s. The 1984 tax return is very revealing. There are special laws in America for full-time real estate people that allow them to live tax-free if they own a lot of property. So, if Donald gave us his tax returns, I could tell you what his property is really worth as opposed to what he tells people it’s worth. That’s one reason he’s not going to give it out. I don’t think he’s anywhere near as wealthy as he claims. Not even close.
But in 1984, he was audited by the state of New York and the City of New York, which both have income taxes. He filed a tax form, not the whole return, that showed zero income for this category of income and over $600,000 of deductions. Surprise, surprise, the auditors said, "Please justify these deductions." He couldn’t do it. But he ordered his law guy—his tax guy to make an appeal. And under oath, his longtime tax guy is shown the return that was filed, and he goes, "Um, that’s my signature, but I didn’t prepare that document."

And Donald ... was involved in what’s called the empty box scandal here in New York. That’s where you claim to not live in the city—in the state, and you have an empty box mailed to you out of state to avoid sales tax. In that case, when Donald found out there was an investigation, he did what he often does to not be investigated: He ran to law enforcement and ratted out other people...

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, given this history of lying, of fraud, of all of these other skirtings of the law, have you been surprised at all about this—the enormous support that Trump has gotten among—


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: —the Republican faithful?

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Juan, I’ll tell you why I’m not surprised. As you two know, I’ve spent more than 20 years of my life being on the forefront in the mainstream press of documenting inequality. When nobody else was writing about it, I was showing how government policies are taking from the many and giving to the few. So, the people in this country living in economic terror, the bottom 50 percent, I’ve been their advocate. But they’re not the people who read my books. What they know is: "I’m working harder, I’m making less. If I lose my job, I don’t know how I’ll pay my rent or keep a roof over my kids’ heads." And Donald comes along, like all demagogues do: "I have a solution. It’s the Mexicans. It’s the Muslims. It’s the Chinese." And people gravitate to him—not the only ones, but that’s a big part of his support...

AMY GOODMAN: What were you most surprised by, as we wrap up this interview, in writing The Making of Donald Trump? You have covered him for many years.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: I did not appreciate, until I worked on the book, that while Donald holds himself out as a devout Christian—"No one reads the Bible more than me"—while he has all these pastors embracing him as a good Christian man, Donald aggressively, thoroughly and at great length, in many forums, denounces Christianity. His personal motto is "always get revenge," whereas the message of Jesus Christ was "turn the other cheek." And these ministers, some of whom I’ve written to and haven’t—they haven’t responded at all—continue to embrace him. And I find it very troubling. Donald has beguiled them with flattery... But Donald himself doesn’t care about these things. He will tell you any lie. He can’t quote a single line from the Bible. Not one. And yet he says, "No one reads the Bible more than Donald Trump." If you ask him, "Well, what do you like in the Bible?" "Oh, there’s so many. There’s so many. I just—there are so many, I can’t choose."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His Mob connections ARE his Russian connections, or at the very least they came from them... The deniers of "Russia-Gate" are refusing to look at Donald's long standing history with Organized Crime figures from Russia, Israel and NY... this is decades long and pretty well documented.