A California congresswoman suggested a fishy, decade-old real estate deal may explain how Russian President Vladimir Putin “bought” Donald Trump.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) noted in a San Francisco Chronicle column that there’s something very off about the way Trump sold a Palm Beach, Florida mansion to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for $95 million in 2008 — Trump had paid $41.35 million for it four years prior.
The July 2008 sell date was in “the middle of the recession” and the house had only had “modest” renovations, Speier noted, adding that those were far from the only irregularities about the deal.
“Despite the recession it was also $13 million above the highest price previously paid for a Palm Beach mansion, according to the Palm Beach Post,” the congresswoman noted. “Rybolovlev did not conduct an inspection. He did not obtain an appraisal. He did not order any professional review or undertake any other form of due diligence before purchasing the property.”
Stranger still, Rybolovlev never lived in the house as of 2017.
There are a number of potential explanations — that the oligarch wanted to hide his assets from his ex-wife in a messy divorce or make an investment — but another, Speier noted, “is that Russian leader Vladimir Putin saw an opportunity to exploit Trump’s financial problems to obtain his loyalty and indebtedness.”
During that era, Trump’s financial problems were well-known — but Rybolovlev was too in spite of his estimated $13 billion net worth.
After inheriting a state-owned potash-mining company at 29, Rybolovlev served time (and was later cleared) for murder. Two years before buying the Palm Beach house, a part of the mine collapsed resulting in no deaths but ample damage.
The oligarch’s purchase of the Palm Beach house gave Trump some “oxygen” and millions in the bank, and as Speier noted, Rybolovlev was cleared of guilt in the mine collapse.
With the real estate deal, “Trump was being enrolled in the Russian system of kompromat, of which Putin is a master,” the congresswoman wrote.
“Grant a favor, ask for nothing,” she added. “Both parties understand that someday something may be expected in return.”