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Investigative journalist tells MSNBC how ‘Trump Tower became a cathedral of money laundering’

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An investigative journalist explained on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that President Donald Trump’s real estate business was essentially a money laundering front.

Craig Unger alleges in his new book, “House of Trump, House of Putin,” that the president had been compromised by Russian intelligence for years through his ties to mobsters who pumped money into his family’s real estate empire.

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“I go back nearly 40 years, and I see essentially the greatest intelligence operation of our times,” Unger said. “It started off in 1984 with a man who has ties to the Russian mafia, and he meets with Donald Trump in the Trump Tower, the supreme moment of Donald Trump becoming a master of real estate in the United States — and what we end up seeing is Trump Tower become sort of a cathedral of money laundering.”

That mob associate paid $6 million in cash for five condominiums, and Unger tracked hundreds of similar transactions over the following three decades.

“That sets off a pattern that goes on for the next 30 years or so, in which over 1,300 condos are sold in what appears to be money laundering,” Unger said. “They have two characteristics. One, they are all cash purchases. Two, they are shell purchases, they’re anonymous purchases. The records don’t show who the true owners are.”

Unger said the illegal transactions had made Trump an asset of the Russian government and its president, Vladimir Putin — a former KGB operative — because he said there was no meaningful difference between the country’s organized crime network and its intelligence agencies.

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“I can’t get inside Donald Trump’s mind, but he’s meeting with this guy,” Unger said. “We know there are about 1,300 other operations in which he’s profiting heavily from that. If he can go through that and doesn’t figure that out, he’s either inexplicably stupid or there is a legal concept of willful blindness, and perhaps that’s what’s going on.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump aides desperately try to downplay ‘order’ to US companies to leave China

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Donald Trump's top aides on Sunday downplayed the idea of US companies being forced to abandon China any time soon, as an edict from the president ordering businesses to start looking for alternatives has been met with skepticism.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economics advisor Larry Kudlow took to the airwaves from France, where Trump is participating in the G7 summit, to smooth out tensions in the business community prompted by Trump's Friday tweet.

Trump said he has "no plan now" to bring US companies in line, and his aides quickly reinforced the message.

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Trump sparks confusion at G7 before doubling down on China tariffs

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President Donald Trump doubled down Sunday on his hard line against China after sowing confusion with statements that he might be willing to soften a trade war G7 partners fear threatens the world economy.

At the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, Trump announced a major trade deal with Japan and promised more of the same with Britain, once Brexit is done.

But the positives were overshadowed by a mix-up over his apparent expression of regret for the latest escalation in the US-China dispute.

"I have second thoughts about everything," he conceded to reporters when asked if he regretted his decision on Friday to ramp up tariffs on all Chinese imports, worth some $550 billion, in retaliation for Beijing's earlier hike of levies on US goods.

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Persecuted Christians eye long-sought freedom in Sudan

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Sudan's Christians suffered decades of persecution under the regime of Islamist general Omar al-Bashir. Now they hope his downfall will give the religious freedom they have long prayed for.

Deep within the maze of dusty alleys that honeycomb Omdurman, Khartoum's sprawling twin city, Yousef Zamgila's church is not visible from the street.

It is hidden in the courtyard of a friend's home and consists of a few iron benches, a pulpit and crosses hastily painted on pillars holding a corrugated roof.

"The previous centre got destroyed because we didn't have the right papers. They always refused... So we use the land of our neighbours," says the Lutheran reverend.

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