Parallels between Trump Media loans and infamous Trump Tower meeting drawn by reporter
Donald Trump press conference at Trump Tower / Shutterstock

Trump Media accepted two loans from a pair of Russia-linked entities as the fledgling tech company struggled to stay afloat, and a reporter revealed why investigators started probing the transactions as possible money laundering.

Federal prosecutors in New York have expanded a criminal inquiry of Donald Trump's business venture last year and began probing the loans totaling $8 million Paxum Bank and ES Family Trust, both of which appear to be controlled by the relative of a Vladimir Putin ally, and The Guardian's Hugo Lowell explained his reporting on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"There was an existing criminal investigation into Trump Media, the parent company of Truth Social, that started last year," Lowell said. "Then towards the end of last year, what happened was they got a tip and they started looking at basically two $8 million payment that came through at a time they were cash poor, because it happened late because of the SEC investigation they went and got bridge financing from first a bank, then in February 2022 they got a second loan of $6 million from two different companies. As it turned out, they're pretty much one and the same company, and if you trace the beneficiaries back you get to the nephew of a Putin ally who was the first deputy justice minister in Russia and previously served in Putin's executive office."

"When you look at the whole thing," he added, "difficult to know there's going to be exposure here, but the optics of Trump coming out of the White House his first business venture is getting loans from conduits from offshore banks is not a great look."

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The loans raised concerns inside the company, but the startup was struggling financially while awaiting approval for its merger with the blank-check company Digital World at the time, and board member Donald Trump Jr. had personally approved acceptance of the funds.

"Some of the officers of the company saw the $2 million and the later $6 million, and saw that there had been no vetting, really no information about the people who were lending $8 million to Truth Social company, effectively. I mean, they had $12 million in cash, $8 million a significant portion of the stuff they had in their account. It's funny you say, going back to the beginning in December, when the first $2 million was coming in, a lawyer e-mails Don Jr. to say, hey, this $2 million is coming in, no guarantee it's going to get signed, are we going to proceed with this? Don Jr. goes, 'Thanks, John, much appreciated -- let's go ahead with it.'"

"I don't want to tie too many connections to Natalia Veselnitskaya and Trump Tower, but somehow Don Jr. ends up getting involved," Lowell said, referring to the infamous meeting investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. "Later in February and then in spring 2022 when they're trying to audit these payments, there's flags raised for Trump Media. The then-CFO Phillip Juhan, of Trump Media, weighs returning the money, but they realize actually the $8 million out of the $12 million is such a big segment, [they] don't want to return it."

Watch the video below or at this link.

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