Happy Bunday Reads: News With Bunnies On the SidePosted: May 20, 2019
Dakinikat has lost her electricity again, so I’m filling in. Sorry to be so late. This Bunday post is dedicated to Dephyne and Luna.
Despite Trump’s efforts to stonewall Congress on everything, especially his financial dealings, the media is still finding stuff out.
David Enrich at The New York Times: Deutsche Bank Staff Saw Suspicious Activity in Trump and Kushner Accounts.
Anti-money-laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank recommended in 2016 and 2017 that multiple transactions involving legal entities controlled by Donald J. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a federal financial-crimes watchdog.
The transactions, some of which involved Mr. Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to five current and former bank employees. Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes.
But executives at Deutsche Bank, which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner companies, rejected their employees’ advice. The reports were never filed with the government….
Real estate developers like Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner sometimes do large, all-cash deals, including with people outside the United States, any of which can prompt anti-money laundering reviews….former Deutsche Bank employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the bank’s generally lax approach to money laundering laws. The employees — most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve their ability to work in the industry — said it was part of a pattern of the bank’s executives rejecting valid reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients.
Tammy McFadden, the whistleblower who came forward with this information was terminated by the bank after she expressed her concerns. Read the rest at the NYT.
Grant Stern summarizes the dirty details about Kushner’s dealings with Deutsche Bank at Washington Press: A whistleblower just revealed Deutsche Bank covered up 2016 Kushner money transfers with Russia.
David Enrich tweeted after Trump complained about his NYT piece.
Here’s another article he wrote in March, also at the NYT: A Mar-a-Lago Weekend and an Act of God: Trump’s History With Deutsche Bank.
As President Trump delivered his inaugural address in 2017, a slight woman with feathered gray hair sat listening, bundled in a hooded white parka in a fenced-off V.I.P. section. Her name was Rosemary T. Vrablic. She was a managing director at Deutsche Bank and one of the reasons Mr. Trump had just taken the oath of office.
It was a moment of celebration — and a moment of worry for Ms. Vrablic’s employer.
Mr. Trump and Deutsche Bank were deeply entwined, their symbiotic bond born of necessity and ambition on both sides: a real estate mogul made toxic by polarizing rhetoric and a pattern of defaults, and a bank with intractable financial problems and a history of misconduct.
The relationship had paid off. Mr. Trump used loans from Deutsche Bank to finance skyscrapers and other high-end properties, and repeatedly cited his relationship with the bank to deflect political attacks on his business acumen. Deutsche Bank used Mr. Trump’s projects to build its investment-banking business, reaped fees from the assets he put in its custody and leveraged his celebrity to lure clients.
Then Mr. Trump won the 2016 election, and the German bank shifted into damage-control mode, bracing for an onslaught of public scrutiny, according to several people involved in the internal response.
In the weeks before Ms. Vrablic attended his swearing-in, the bank commissioned reports to figure out how it had gotten in so deep with Mr. Trump. It issued an unusual edict to its Wall Street employees: Do not publicly utter the word “Trump.”
The president* and his son-in-law, who has anywhere between three and 81 jobs in the administration*, were shuffling money around in such a funky fashion that money-laundering experts—at the only bank in the world from which the president* can get more than a souvenir calendar—felt compelled to raise an alarm. Putting the words “money laundering” and “president” in the same sentence used to be enough for network news to throw up one of those scarifying “BULLETIN” graphics. Putting the word “Russian” in there, too, used to be enough to get Walter Cronkite to sail his sloop all the way from the Vineyard to Black Rock.
In the summer of 2016, Deutsche Bank’s software flagged a series of transactions involving the real estate company of Mr. Kushner, now a senior White House adviser. Ms. McFadden, a longtime anti-money laundering specialist in Deutsche Bank’s Jacksonville office, said she had reviewed the transactions and found that money had moved from Kushner Companies to Russian individuals. She concluded that the transactions should be reported to the government — in part because federal regulators had ordered Deutsche Bank, which had been caught laundering billions of dollars for Russians, to toughen its scrutiny of potentially illegal transactions.
Apparently, according to the people interviewed by the Times, DB functioned as an all-purpose international laundromat for various people who needed money cleaned. Of course, the stakes rise considerably when one of the folks waiting for the spin cycle to finish is the president* of the United States.
Read the rest at Esquire.
Trump has nominated another lunatic to the Federal Reserve Board. Pedro Nickolaci da Cost at Forbes: Trump Fed Nominee Backs Policies That Would Crash The Economy.
Donald Trump is really scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to his remaining Federal Reserve nominees—and he doesn’t seem to understand what their individual views on monetary policy actually mean.
Take his latest pick, Judy Shelton, chosen after the attempted appointment of Stephen Moore collapsed following footage of him making incredibly misogynistic and racist comments.
Shelton’s views on interest policy and currencies aren’t just arcane, destructive and out of the mainstream. They also run directly counter to Trump’s own calls for the Fed not to raise interest rates and, most recently, for them to reduce borrowing costs to boost growth and help the administration achieve its elusive 3% growth target.
And they contradict Trump’s nationalist approach to economic relations by calling for a new international treaty on currencies that would essentially take drag the world economy back into some kind of gold standard, effectively shoving it totally needlessly into deep depression.
Read details about Shelton’s crazy ideas at the link.
You’ve probably heard that Trump is planning to pardon a number of accused or convicted war criminals. From Saturday’s New York Times: Trump May Be Preparing Pardons for Servicemen Accused of War Crimes.
President Trump has indicated that he is considering pardons for several American military members accused or convicted of war crimes, including high-profile cases of murder, attempted murder and desecration of a corpse, according to two United States officials.
The officials said that the Trump administration had made expedited requests this week for paperwork needed to pardon the troops on or around Memorial Day.
One request is for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher of the Navy SEALs, who is scheduled to stand trial in the coming weeks on charges of shooting unarmed civilians and killing an enemy captive with a knife while deployed in Iraq.
The others are believed to include the case of a former Blackwater security contractor recently found guilty in the deadly 2007 shooting of dozens of unarmed Iraqis; the case of Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, the Army Green Beret accused of killing an unarmed Afghan in 2010; and the case of a group of Marine Corps snipers charged with urinating on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters.
And yes, Trump wants to pardon war criminals on Memorial Day. More from New York Magazine: Trump Wants to Make War Criminals Great Again.
Trump has already publicly signaled his support for both Gallagher and Golsteyn, at least in part owing to the advocacy of Fox & Friends co-anchor Pete Hegseth, who has been lobbying the president on behalf of the men both on and off the air. In March, Trump announced that he would be transferring Gallagher to “less restrictive confinement” while he awaits his upcoming trial, and back in December, Trump tweeted that he would be reviewing Golsteyn’s case. He referred to Golsteyn as a “U.S. military hero.”
Trump has not mentioned the Marine Scout Snipers who were court-martialed for urinating on dead Taliban fighters, but Task and Purpose reports that Trump’s former attorney, John Dowd, had worked to clear the Marines’ records in 2017, and a lawyer for one of the Marines said he had requested a pardon from Trump after he took office but never heard back. The president has also never mentioned Slatten, the Blackwater contractor, but Trump has well-known links to Blackwater via its founder, the Trump-boosting, truth-challenged Erik Prince, and his sister, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
The paperwork requests also come less than two weeks after President Trump pardoned another convicted war criminal, former Army First Lieutenant Michael Behenna, who, while deployed in Iraq in 2008, disobeyed orders, drove an Iraqi prisoner into the desert, stripped him naked, and shot him in the chest and the head. Behenna was convicted of unpremeditated murder a year later and was already serving a reduced sentence when Trump pardoned him.
Trump is (or has been) convinced that these men are victims of injustice, rather than perpetrators of it. And it’s not hard to imagine how war criminals could seem like war heroes to a president who fetishizes strength and power over the powerless….
Whatever Trump believes, he has already made it clear that when it comes to helping his friends and perceived allies, he has no problem wielding pardons and revoking justice at an unprecedented scale. Considering all these factors, there should be little doubt that Trump will proceed with the pardons, as well as think that Memorial Day would be the best day to grant them, rather than the absolute worst day imaginable — since it would malign the honorable service and sacrifice of countless other Americans.
You can read more examples of Gallagher’s war crimes from this long Twitter thread by Scott Hechinger.
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great Bunday!