Election 2016

Did Trump Launder Money To His 2016 Campaign?

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Thanks to tax and financial records obtained from unknown sources by the New York Times, we know Trump is not actually capable of self-funding his campaign. He does not have the income or liquid assets to suddenly pour a hundred million dollars into a campaign and, after accounting for his vast debts, he may not even be a real billionaire.

But that was true in 2016, not just today.

Trump did contribute money to his own campaign in 2016, but where did the money come from? He had even fewer sources of revenue before he was installed in the White House, did he not?

According to additional financial records revealed by the Times this morning, Trump reportedly received a windfall of cash from a mysterious business entity that apparently existed for just that purpose. Money with no known source was funneled through several other entities owned by Trump and eventually to himself around the same time he "donated" to his own campaign.

And the president’s long-hidden tax records, obtained by The New York Times, also reveal this: how he engineered a sudden financial windfall — more than $21 million in what experts describe as highly unusual one-off payments from the Las Vegas hotel he owns with his friend the casino mogul Phil Ruffin. [...]

In [the campaign's] waning days, as his own giving had slowed to a trickle, Mr. Trump contributed $10 million, leaving many people wondering where the burst of cash had come from.

The tax records, by their nature, do not specify whether the more than $21 million in payments from the Trump-Ruffin hotel helped prop up Mr. Trump’s campaign, his businesses or both. But they do show how the cash flowed, in a chain of transactions, to several Trump-controlled companies and then directly to Mr. Trump himself.

The bulk of the money went through a company called Trump Las Vegas Sales and Marketing that had little previous income, no clear business purpose and no employees. The Trump-Ruffin joint venture wrote it all off as a business expense.

I'm not an expert on white collar and financial crime so perhaps "money laundering" isn't the right descriptor here, but from the outside it looks like Trump essentially wrote off contributions to his own campaign as a business expense. But the other question is where the money came from before it reached Trump and why it was funneled through several entities. That also makes this look like laundering.

It's going to take time, but I think we'll eventually receive answers to all of these questions if we vote Trump out next month. There will be nothing protecting him from state and local authorities combing through every decimal he has ever filed.

It should not have required Trump becoming president and destroying the country for state authorities and journalists to take a closer look at his finances. If he was properly vetted or audited before, he wouldn't have become president. There's plenty of blame to go around for allowing all of this to happen and that also falls on voters.

  • katanahamon

    Yes.

  • ozdog

    His mindless cult simply won’t believe it. He has them trained to believe anything negative about him is “fake news.” I have a childhood friend who is like that. Since he is a veteran, I asked him if it pissed him off that trump did nothing about the bounties Russia was putting on the heads of U.S. troops. All he said was “FAKE NEWS.”

  • muselet

    Money with no known source was funneled through several other entities owned by Trump and eventually to himself around the same time he “donated” to his own campaign.

    Passing money through a series of shell companies—Trump Las Vegas Sales and Marketing certainly qualifies—is, yes, money laundering.

    This raises two questions for me: First, how much did Donald Trump skim off each time the money was transferred to another Trump-owned company? And second, were the rubles converted to dollars before or after they hit the coffers of Trump International Hotel, Las Vegas?

    –alopecia