Speed Reads

Trump-Russia

Ex-federal prosecutor says shady Russian money is keeping the Trump Organization afloat

Amid all the intrigue and speculation over possible collusion between President Trump's campaign and Russian intelligence, big questions remain about Trump's business dealings with Russia — a mystery that might be solved if Trump released his tax returns. Trump has sent mixed signals about his business ties with wealthy Russians, saying in February he has "no dealings with Russia" or "loans with Russia," and in 2013 telling Real Estate Weekly after a meeting with potential investors in Moscow that he has a "great relationship with many Russians," especially "the oligarchs." Donald Trump Jr. also told Russian media in 2008 that "Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets."

On Tuesday, USA Today looked at the "wealthy Russians and oligarchs from former Soviet Republics — several allegedly connected to organized crime," who have invested in Trump-branded real estate, basing the article on a "review of court cases, government and legal documents, and an interview with a former federal prosecutor." The review focused on "10 wealthy former Soviet businessmen with alleged ties to criminal organizations or money laundering," but the pertinent question now is whether Trump is beholden to Kremlin-linked Russian oligarchs.

Ken McCallion, a private lawyer and former assistant U.S. attorney in New York during the Carter and Reagan administrations, says that's a real possibility. McCallion told USA Today that he spent years looking into the Trump Organization and its business relationships, especially with Russians. "The FBI is always concerned if public officials can be blackmailed," he said. "It's Russian-laundered money from people who operate under the good graces of President Putin. If these people pull the plug on the Trump Organization, it would go down pretty quickly." You can read a lot more about the oligarchs and their alleged ties to Trump at USA Today, and get an overview in the video report below.

The White House referred USA Today to the Trump Organization, which said that it "never entered into a single transaction with any of these individuals and the condominium units were all owned and sold by third parties — not Trump."