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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.

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.

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“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.”

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.

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“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.”

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.

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“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.

“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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White supremacists accounted for majority of terror-related arrests in last year: FBI director

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FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers on Tuesday that his agency has so far made roughly 100 terrorism-related arrests so far this fiscal year -- and the majority of them are related in some way to the white supremacist movement.

As Washington Post reporter Matt Zapotosky reports, Wray made his remarks about white supremacist terrorists while being questioned by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) during an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Despite the fact that white supremacists accounted for a majority of terror-related arrests in the first three quarters of this fiscal year, however, Wray also said that the FBI still considers jihadi-inspired terrorism to be the greater overall threat.

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Florida cop runs down joy-riding black teen on bicycle — then officers shock him with a Taser

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Florida police chased down a joy-riding black teenager, struck the bicycle he was riding and then violently arrested him after he fled in terror.

Jaydon Stubbs and four friends were riding July 17 on their way to Hollywood Beach when an officer spotted the teens in an area where there had been a string of recent burglaries, reported WPLG-TV.

The officer saw the boys popping wheelies and ignoring traffic laws, so she tried to stop them for questioning -- but they split up and rode away from her.

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Here’s how Boris Johnson is already shaping up to be Britain’s Trump

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On Tuesday, Boris Johnson, former British Foreign Secretary and leader of the Conservative Party, secured the votes in Parliament to become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

It is an outcome that was long considered likely — and it creates parallels with the 2016 election of President Donald Trump in the United States, as there are a great many similarities between the politics and styles of these two men, notes NPR.

First, and most obviously, both men are brusque right-wing populists who have made controlling immigration their core issue on the political stage — in Trump's case it is building the wall, while in Johnson's case it is implementing Brexit.

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