If this report is to be believed– “WHY FBI CAN’T TELL ALL ON TRUMP, RUSSIA” — we really do need an independent investigation. Read the tiniest sliver to see if you want more. The authors, Jonathan Z. Larsen (who once headed TIME’s Saigon bureau) and Russ Baker (to whose work I once contributed a dollar or two) are serious investigative journalists.
. . . The Russian mob has a breathtaking and underappreciated reach. It is so powerful that FBI Agent Peter Kowenhoven told CNN in 2009 that Semion Mogilevich, its “boss of bosses,” is a strategic threat, and a man who “can, with a telephone call or order, affect the global economy.”
US authorities came to see Mogilevich, who is described as close with Putin, as not only a danger to the financial system but a potential threat to world peace. He had access to stockpiles of military weapons and even fissionable material, snapped up as the Soviet Union fell apart.
. . . The Russian mob should also not be confused with a mere crime syndicate. It is an organization comprised of state actors, oligarchs, and specific groups of individuals working collectively with the authority of the Russian government — a “mafia state.” At times, it is difficult to tell where the mob ends and the government begins.
. . . Right from the earliest days of Trump Tower, in 1983, some of the choicest condominiums, including those in the 10 floors immediately below the future president’s own triplex apartment, went to a rogues gallery of criminals and their associates. . . .
When you get to the line, “Today, Trump claims to have trouble remembering Sater,” you may be puzzled.
Sater could simply walk up a flight of stairs to Trump’s office and stop in for an impromptu chat. Indeed, Sater and the Trump clan grew so close that in February 2006, at the personal request of Donald Trump, the mobster joined his children Ivanka, Donald Jr., and his son’s wife Vanessa in Moscow to show them around, according to his deposition testimony.
. . . a few years later, he could still be found in Trump Tower. But now he was apparently working directly for Trump himself, with an office, business cards, phone number and email address all provided by the Trump Organization. The cards identified him as a “Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.”
Today, Trump claims to have trouble remembering Sater.
And so it goes. It’s not the Mexicans we should be worried about, methinks — it’s the Russians.*
*Friday, I quoted Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here, the 1935 novel about a man improbably elected President in 1936. “The [candidate] was vulgar, almost illiterate, a public liar easily detected, and in his ‘ideas’ almost idiotic. . . . [He would] jab his crowds with figures and facts — figures and facts that were inescapable even when, as often happened, they were entirely incorrect.” One of his tools of governance was fear of the Mexican people, who, by 1939, were routinely crossing the border and reportedly slaughtering Americans left and right . . . though verification of those slaughters was hard to come by . . . and whose plans, it had been discovered, were “to fly over and bomb Laredo, San Antonio, Bisbee, and probably Tacoma, and Bangor, Maine.” Faced with Mexico’s “appalling army of 67,000 men, with thirty-nine military aëroplanes . . . [w]omen in Cedar Rapids hid under the bed; elderly gentlemen in Cattaraugus County, New York, concealed their money in elm-tree boles; and the wife of a chicken-raiser seven miles N.E. of Estelline, South Dakota, a woman widely known as a good cook and a trained observer, distinctly saw a file of ninety-two Mexican soldiers pass her cabin, starting at 3:17am on July 27, 1939.”