Saturday, January 7, 2017

Follow the Money

How could anyone believe the presidency of Donald Trump will not be a significant problem for the United States? The very fact that Trump refused to release his tax returns is a significant indication of an underlying problem. Robert Reich ends one of his recent posts with “Follow the money. Always follow the money.” Beyond the Russian problem, perhaps if we got a look at Trump’s tax returns we would have a greater understanding of what the problems are going to be.

Robert Reich points out the significance of the Russian problem:

This morning, Putin confidante Alexey Pushkov, a Russian senator and former chairman of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, tweeted that American democracy has been undermined “not by Russia, but by the Obama administration and the media that supported Clinton against Trump.”

Trump agreed by tweeting that the “only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!” and that “when I am President, Russia will respect us far more than they do now.”

Here’s the truth:

1. American intelligence agencies have confirmed that Vladimir Putin ordered Russia to intervene in the 2016 presidential election on the side of Donald Trump.

2. Trump refuses to acknowledge this.

3. Over the years, Russian oligarchs, friends of Putin, have financed Trump’s projects and lent billions of dollars to Trump’s enterprises. In 2008, Donald Trump Jr., told a real estate conference “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” and continued, “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

4. The financial ties don’t end there. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, a longtime consultant to Viktor Yanukovich, the Russian-backed president of Ukraine who was overthrown in 2014, has done multi-million-dollar business deals with Russian oligarchs. Also: Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, came up through the ranks at Exxon by managing the company’s Russia account. After becoming CEO, Exxon bet billions on Russia’s vast oil resources through a partnership with Russian oil giant Rosneft, owned partly by the Kremlin. Putin himself attended the 2011 signing ceremony for the deal. In 2013, Putin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, one of the highest honors Russia gives to foreign citizens.

Follow the money. Always follow the money.