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Here’s how the Russian mob used cash from a multi-billion dollar gas scam to get their hooks into Trump

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President Donald Trump got his start laundering money for the Russian mob more than 30 years ago as part of one of the biggest scams in U.S. history, according to a new book.

Investigative reporter Craig Unger has described Trump Tower as a “cathedral to money laundering,” and his new book — “House of Trump, House of Putin” — examines the depth of the president’s relationship with the Russian mafia, which he says has no meaningful distinction from the country’s intelligence agencies.

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Unger traces the links between Trump and the Russian mob back to at least 1984, when a Soviet refugee David Bogatin was looking for a place to stash the millions he was raking in from a gasoline tax scam he was running with the Colombo crime family.

That scam, the largest of its kind in American history, was busted up by federal investigators as part of Operation Red Daisy, which resulted in the indictment of 15 Russian nationals and 10 others for evading more than $140 million in fuel excise taxes.

Bogatin and two associates, Michael Markowitz and Lev Persits, approached Michael Franzese, the son of a notorious underboss in the Colombo organization, in 1980 asking for protection for their own network of sketchy gas stations.

“These Russians were having trouble collecting money owed them,” Franzese later recalled. “They were also having problems obtaining and holding on to the licenses they needed to keep the gas tax scam going.”

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Franzese, the son of mob enforcer John “Sonny” Franzese, was not initially impressed by the Russians — he mocked Markowitz’s disco-styled attire and thought Bogatin looked more like an accountant than a mafioso — but agreed to work for them in exchange for 75 percent of their take in the scheme, Unger wrote.

The lopsided deal proved spectacularly successful for both sides, as profits soared to $100 million a month and more than $1 billion a year — but the conspirators needed a place to launder their ill-gotten cash.

“After seven years in New York, Bogatin had stashed away enough money to buy real estate anywhere he wanted,” Unger wrote. “For roughly a decade, thousands of Russian Jews like him had been pouring into Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. But Bogatin had his eyes on something more prestigious.”

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Bogatin became fixated on a “garish” 58-story building that had opened a year before — Trump Tower — and he paid $6 million in cash from his fuel tax scheme for five apartments there.

Unger tracked more than 1,300 similar cash transactions at Trump Tower over the next three decades involving mobsters that ensnared the future president in the closely tied web of Russian spies and mobsters.

“Russian Mafia and Russian intelligence operatives successfully targeted, compromised, and implanted either a willfully ignorant or an inexplicably unaware Russian asset in the White House as the most powerful man on earth,” Unger concludes.

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“In doing so, without firing a shot, the Russians helped put in power a man who would immediately begin to undermine the Western Alliance,” he added, “which has been the foundation of American national security for more than 70 years; who would start massive trade wars with America’s longtime allies; fuel right‐wing anti‐immigrant populism; and assault the rule of law in the United States.”


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2020 Election

Elizabeth Warren accuses Congress of complicity in Trump’s continued abuses

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused the U.S. Congress of complicity in President Donald Trump's continued abuse of power late Friday, after reports surfaced of his alleged attempts to solicit foreign meddling in the 2020 presidential election, and reiterated her demand that Democrats use their majority in the House to pursue impeachment.

Warren's tweeted statement came hours after the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's opposition to a Ukrainian prosecutor in 2016.

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‘Resistance’ liberals love the FBI and CIA — but history says they don’t love you back

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A freaky moment recently transpired on television. In a nonfiction adaptation of “American Horror Story,” Bill Maher, nominally a member of the liberal “Resistance,” led his audience and guests in applauding and paying tribute to the FBI and CIA. To her credit, panelist (and rival talk-show host) Krystal Ball remained stoic, refusing to bring her hands together or smile. But even she allowed the moment to pass without noting the obvious: The CIA and the FBI are two of the most anti-democratic and violent forces in the history of our country.

Maher’s weird and historically illiterate “tribute” to two organizations with endless résumés of human rights violations, political persecution of dissidents and overseas coups directed at democratic governments — not to mention stunning failure at the principal tasks of their mission — punctuated his declaration of gratitude for “our safety” since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The comedian and commentator then tried to dress this right-wing, jingoistic bromide in progressive drag by reminding the crowd that President Trump has “disrespected” both agencies.

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Swiss holding ‘funeral march’ to mark disappearance of an Alpine glacier

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Dozens of people will undertake a "funeral march" up a steep Swiss mountainside on Sunday to mark the disappearance of an Alpine glacier amid growing global alarm over climate change.

The Pizol "has lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, told AFP.

The organisation which helped organise Sunday's march said around 100 people were due to take part in the event, set to take place as the UN gathers youth activists and world leaders in New York to mull the action needed to curb global warming.

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