Author reveals how Donald Trump chased after 'Russian criminal money' to build Trump Tower
Donald Trump greets supporters and tourists at the Trump Tower on July 22, 2015 in New York City

Award-winning Associated Press reporter Seth Hettena, author of the new book Trump/Russia: A Definitive History, explained President Donald Trump's decades-long ties to the Russian Mob during a Saturday appearance on MSNBC

"A new book on the Russia investigation explores whether President Trump is either hiding something when it comes to the Kremlin or was duped by Soviet state craft," anchor Alex Witt noted.

"You have relationships with Russia -- between Trump and people around him -- that go back decades," Hettena noted. "When we look at that, what we see is this isn't a new development here, that these are relationships that go back to the 1980s even."

Witt wondered if the entire scandal came down to money.

"It's about money, but it's about Russian criminal money, specifically," Hettena clarified. "What happened, is in the 80s there was a group of Russian criminals here in New York that were running a really lucrative gas tax scam, they had so much money they didn't know what to do with it."

"The interesting thing is Donald Trump found them, and got them to invest in Trump Tower and they wound up buying a block of units for a little less than $6 million," he continued.

"That was Trump's introduction into this world of Russian criminal money," Hettena argued. "It continued in Trump Tower, it continued in his casinos, it continued into development projects, right up until the present day."

The author also suggested longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen had ties to the Russian mob.

"What we see with Cohen, as we see with Trump, is there's Russian criminal connections to his past," Hettena reported. "What my sources tell me, that's how he got into the Trump Organization, is through these connections."