Russia & The West
The Curious World of Donald Trump’s Private Russian Connections

Did the American people really know they were putting such a “well-connected” guy in the White House?

Appeared in: Volume 12, Number 4 | Published on: December 19, 2016
James S. Henry, Esq. is an investigative economist and lawyer who has written widely about offshore and onshore tax havens, kleptocracy, and pirate banking. He is the author of The Blood Bankers (Basic Books, 2003,2005), a classic investigation of where the money went that was loaned to key debtor countries in the 1970s-1990s. He is a senior fellow at the Columbia University’s Center on Sustainable Investment, a Global Justice Fellow at Yale, a senior advisor at the Tax Justice Network, and a member of the New York Bar. He has pursued frontline investigations of odious debt, flight capital, and corruption in more than fifty developing countries, including Russia, China, South Africa, Brazil, the Philippines, Argentina, Venezuela, and Panama.
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  • FriendlyGoat

    “I’ve always been blessed with a kind of intuition about people that allows me to sense who the sleazy guys are, and I stay far away.”
    —Donald Trump, Surviving at the Top

    This was the discernment that Trumpians are supposed to receive about Trump from listening to Trump. But nope, they are satisfied with HIM claiming all the smarts and themselves being as gullible to a hook in a bait as most fish.

    • Isaiah6020

      Begging the question logical fallacy. Your logic only works if you accept that Trump is just the worst thing in the world. That is not a point that anybody is conceding. Take that weak sh!t out of here. I would shame a first year debate student for trying that.

    • Anthony
      • FriendlyGoat

        I wish that we could rely on this kind of information to pry loose the Trump base. So far, I think that half of the people in the country may believe the poor man is simply being harassed for no reason.

        • Anthony

          For a large portion, I believe he (Trump) provides both representation and something to identify (psychological undercurrents perhaps). Regarding referenced information, there is a degree of deflection or perhaps overall “automatic preference” blocking realization of both a comprised President and a potential institutional threat. But, hey, Walter Russell Mead and Peter Berger loom ever larger in my eyes.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I have come to believe that some of the base are simply enjoying being a fan of a “big guy”, as though they can vicariously live his swashbuckling life. It’s my expectation that the budget and tax debates coming this fall may be more a frustration to the base than anything sourced to Russia. Nothing to do but wait and see how that all goes.

          • Anthony

            Trump validates (correctly or not) views and his amplification of those views (ideas), whether he himself believes them or not, may provide a vicarious credibility among base (as you imply). But, he’s not the answer despite the harnessing of the anger. An anger that has provided wind under sails of both Trump and Sanders’s campaigns. The anger is real – a warning sign that our politics are in crisis. Perhaps as you allude, tax debates, budget proposals, et al will add insight. We shall see.

  • ვეფხისტყაოსანი

    I’m willing to bet that an equally persuasive article could be written about, say, Hillary Clinton — if there were a journalist anywhere in the US willing to put forth the effort.

    Or, for that matter, any other multi-millionaire politician of any party.

    • bff426

      I was thinking the two Clintons might require a multi-part series ordered by their various positions ( Attorney General & Rose Law Firm, Gubernatorial Years, White House Years, Senate and the Clinton Foundation Formation, The Moneygrubbing Years, Failed Presidential Candidate, Secretary Of State, Failed Presidential Candidate (Redux), Whiny Loser).

  • Gary Hemminger

    Give me a break. I am sure that Trump has connections to just about every country out there. If you are a business person you really don’t care whom you deal with. this is a big nothingburger. Let’s see this author write about Clinton’s connections with foreigners. Who cares! Anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows that Russians have a bunch of ill gotten gains that they have used to buy American stuff. So what. It is bad, but is Trump supposed to say “Nyet” to this money? Wake up and smell the coffee. No one gives a hoot about this except Trump haters. You think the Clinton’s said “Nyet” to this money? You think anyone said “nyet” to this money? This is a big nothingburger.

  • Isaiah6020

    I admit to not reading to the end. It just seems like a laundry list of anybody Russian who ever came into contact with Donald Trump. Where’s collusion? Is there preferential treatment of Russia? The answer is no. So then who cares? What is the aim of this article? I’m genuinely curious. It doesn’t answer the question of collusion, and all other questions are irrelevant.

  • Anthony

    “The long-run consequences of careless intervention in other countries is that they often come back to haunt us. In Russia’s case, it just has – Tell me who you walk with and I’ll tell you who you are.”

    • Isaiah6020

      Does this walk with thing applies to Clintons walking with Qatari’s as well?

  • Suzy Dixon

    Trump is a world renown business man. Everyone knows. The problem were the Clinton’s Russian and Saudi and Qatari connections. They run a shady foundation and took bribes.

  • Anthony

    The essay is about Donald Trump (not AD HOMINEM: TU QUOQUE [Clintons]) and may foreshadow the Special Counsel’s unwinding of layered Russian Monies invested in willing and useful (unknowing)…including DJT.

  • Beauceron

    Interesting and well-sourced article.

    To answer the question, “Did the American people really know they were putting such a “well-connected” guy in the White House?,” I think the answer is “no.” Followed quickly with, “I don’t think they would have cared much anyway.”

    What is glaring about this article, is that there is absolutely no mention whatsoever of collusion to influence the US election or how these connections relate to the so-called “hack” of the elections by Russia.

    I take it on faith that Trump was not an angelic businessman. No businessman with that many bankruptcies could possibly be considered so.

    But I think I see a lot of the press changing the goalposts, just as the special prosecutor seems to be doing, and something I suspect you’re trying to contribute to. Call me paranoid, but this all seems to be trying to prepare the ground for the argument that shady deals with Russian oligarchs during the 90s is an acceptable substitute to the charge that Trump colluded with the Russian government to subvert American democracy and rob its citizens of their election. We have been told for months that Russia hacked the election, influencing it to the point that they caused HRC to lose and Trump to win. The press has been unrelenting on that– and caustic and damning as well.

    That’s the charge, and it’s a serious one.

    What you’ve told me is that Trump has done some business deals with some shady Russians– and you have proven it, at least to my satisfaction. But you’ve answered a question that hasn’t been asked. What you haven’t done is show that Russia and Trump colluded to influence the US election in some illegal way.

  • Boritz

    Has lots of endnotes like Unfit for Command.

  • WigWag


  • coinscurrency

    I don’t care if Mr.Trump is he is involved in business ventures around the world because he is the BEST Business person ever! He’s NOT in jail, so his either a god of business or JUST lucky! OF course he deals with bad people, everybody does…..because its JUST business. Mr. Trump is my president, and if he’s done anything WRONG, the evidence gathered by anyone & everyone will be give to the COURTS and he will be judged and convicted……. EVERYBODY IS WATCHING MR. TRUMP! and then he’s a 71 year old guy, what can he do to hurt anyone. I believe he only hurts RICH people…… And helps the Middle class….

  • Mommad Poppad

    The author even states in his own article above that the Clinton regime not only worked with all these shady folks to line their pockets but also colluded to undermine democracy and support Yeltsin! “Sadly, this neoliberal “market reform” policy package that was introduced at a Stalin-like pace from 1992 to late 1998 was not only condoned but partly designed and financed by senior Clinton Administration officials, neoliberal economists, and innumerable USAID, World Bank, and IMF officials.” “There was also an important intervention in Russian politics. In January 1996 a secret team of professional U.S. political consultants arrived in Moscow to discover that, as CNN put it back then, “The only thing voters like less than Boris Yeltsin is the prospect of upheaval.” The experts’ solution was one of earliest “Our brand is crisis” campaign strategies, in which Yeltsin was “spun” as the only alternative to “chaos.” To support him, in March 1996 the IMF also pitched in with $10.1 billion of new loans, on top of $17.3 billion of IMF/World Bank loans that had already been made.”

  • Brian Frydenborg

    My own take on many of these threads in the Trump-Russia network (this article was very helpful to me in pursuing various lines of research)
    This is what I had before this AI piece came out: Nov 2016 pre-election: July 2016:

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