Newsweek has come out with a big story that Donald Trump is a stooge of Communist Russia's Putin, and that his election would endanger the world order. Let's examine that.
First, a true story: For seven years, from 1985-1992, I worked for Dr. Armand Hammer, head of Occidental Petroleum, headquartered in Westwood, until he died at age 92. He was the consummate capitalist, and ran his publicly held company almost as a fiefdom. But he had uncommon access to the Soviet Union and its leaders throughout his career. Why?
In 1920, after graduating from Columbia Medical School and making a fortune selling 50% alcohol "cough syrup" through his father's New York City pharmacy in the early days of Prohibition, he went to the Soviet Union, which had just been created after the Bolshevik Revolution. He obtained the Ford Dealership for the USSR, and built a pencil factory and other businesses that thrived in the chaos of the early days of Communism. He got to know all the top Soviet leaders, and a present he gave to Lenin, a copy of Rodin's famous statue "The Thinker", was given to Lenin shortly before his death in 1925, and sits on Lenin's desk even today.
In 1979, when Chinese leader Deng Xiouping was making his first visit to the U.S., Dr. Hammer attended a function put on by the major American oil company executives in Houston, and Deng suddenly broke free from a group of executives he was talking to and went over to Dr. Hammer and said "I want to shake the hand of the man who shook the hand of Lenin". They sat together at the dinner that evening, and by the end of the dinner had reached a handshake deal for Occidental to partner with the People's Republic of China in the first natural resources joint venture in that country. By 1985, I was doing legal work for Occidental on that joint venture, the An Tai Bao Coal Mine in Shanxi Province, China.
Even though he has apparently never had a face-to-face meeting with Putin (despite once claiming that he did), he has often expressed his admiration for the Russian dictator.
What is not widely known (and which only became known after the USSR fell in the early 1990s) is that starting in 1920, Dr. Hammer had been assisting the nascent American Communist Party, run by his father, by couriering money from Russia to the U.S. to support it. His efforts kept the American Communist Party alive in the U. S. in those early days, and the Soviet leaders thereafter never forgot. Each Soviet leader was given a secret letter stating that Dr. Hammer was an "old friend" of the USSR, and should be respected highly by them. And he was: Dr. Hammer and Occidental had a privileged status in the USSR, unlike any other American company.
The arch capitalist was in fact a "Communist sympathizer"…
Is Donald Trump the New Dr. Armand Hammer?
It is undisputed that The Donald has a single-minded devotion to money and power, and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. Even though he has apparently never had a face-to-face meeting with Putin (despite once claiming that he did), he has often expressed his admiration for the Russian dictator. He has also said he has no problem with Putin's annexation of the Crimea, and denied that Russian soldiers were in Eastern Ukraine, when it is clear that they are. Trump also suggested that the U.S. role in NATO might be changed significantly if he became President.
Here are some of Donald Trump's Russian connections:
- David Corn of Mother Jones has just reported that a former senior officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence has stated that he provided the FBI with memos from Russian sources contending that the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump. This ex-spy, who is a credible source with a proven record, has asserted that "there was an established exchange of information between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin of mutual benefit". He went on to assert that Trump "and his inner circle have accepted a regular flow of intelligence from the Kremlin, including on his Democratic and other political rivals", and that this cultivation of Trump has gone on for at least five years. Corn insists that these allegations are not connected to the WikiLeaks documents regarding Hillary's campaign. Most troubling, the ex-spy asserted that "Russian intelligence had 'compromised' Trump" and could "blackmail him".
- It is known that Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had long-standing ties to the former ruler of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and received $12.7 million in "dark money" from his pro-Russian regime from 2007 to 2012, although he denies it. Yanukovych has taken refuge in Russia since he was deposed in 2014. Four days after Manafort's ties to the Ukraine dictator were revealed, he resigned from the Trump campaign.
- Another recent story, reported by Franklin Foer of Slate, suggested that a bank in Moscow, Alfa Bank, was regularly pinging a server registered to the Trump Organization on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. A computer expert looked at this data and concluded that "The parties were communicating in a secretive fashion…This is more akin to a what criminal syndicates do if they are putting together a project". It looked to this expert that Trump and Alfa had created something like a digital hotline connecting the two entities, closed to everyone else, and designed to obscure its own existence. Others have said that this is nothing, and discount it.
- Donald Trump has not released his tax returns, so it is difficult to get a handle on his finances and whether he is indebted financially to any of the oligarchs in Russia who often loan money to people or companies around the world that they want to curry favor with. But Trump has often been in financial difficulties and most likely is heavily indebted, both personally and through his many (over 500) corporate entitles. This week, the Trump International Hotel in Toronto went into receivership. It is possible that Russian financial interests have The Donald by the short hairs.
- Melania Knauss Trump, Donald's wife, grew up in what was then Communist Yugoslavia, in the part that is now Slovenia. Her father, who currently lives there, is among the 5% of the Slovenian population who are members of the Communist Party, and he is a minor party official there. Coincidence?
- Finally, a must read is the November 4, 2016 Newsweek cover story by Kurt Eichenwald entitled "Why Vladimir Putin's Russia Is Backing Donald Trump". This long article, which runs through the litany of Trump's many ties to Russia, concludes as follows:
"And so, for perhaps the first time since World War II, countries in Western Europe fear that the American election, should Trump win, could trigger events that imperil their national security and do potentially irreparable harm to the alliances that have kept the continent safe for decades."
Like Dr. Hammer, Donald Trump is the consummate capitalist, but it all comes down to money and power, and Trump will do anything to accomplish these goals, including possibly selling out his country. We would truly be in a dangerous place if he is elected President.