Il Trumpe Is A Bagman: The Turnberry Edition

I’ve been saying all along–and it wasn’t hard to see, unless you actively didn’t want to see*–that Il Trumpe would run into trouble over his obvious money laundering activities; this is also how Russia might have gotten their hooks into him (I don’t think it’s really the pee tape, if there is one). I have no idea if Jonathan Chait’s claim that Il Trumpe has been their stooge since 1987 is correct, but once he owed a bunch of oligarchs money–and he became complicit in money laundering–they owned his stupid, corrupt ass. His narcissism just means he’s really talented at deluding himself that he’s not owned lock, stock, and barrel by them.

Anyway, the most recent story about Il Trumpe’s bagmanship is about his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland (boldface mine):

Between meeting the Queen of England and Vladimir Putin, President Trump will spend this weekend at Turnberry, the golf course he bought in 2014 and rechristened Trump Turnberry. This property has not received the attention it deserves. It is, by far, the biggest investment the Trump Organization has made in years. It is so much bigger than his other recent projects that it would not be unreasonable to describe the Trump Organization as, at its core, a manager of a money-losing Scottish golf course that is kept afloat with funds from licensing fees and decades-old real-estate projects

The Turnberry has been losing an astonishing amount of money, including twenty-three million dollars in 2016. The Trump Organization argued that these losses were the result of being closed for several months for repair. However, revenue for the months it was open were so low—about $1.5 million per month—that it is hard to understand how the property will ever become profitable, let alone so successful that it will pay back nearly three hundred million dollars in investment and losses

President Trump has proclaimed himself the “king of debt,” a proud master of “doing things with other people’s money.” So it was quite surprising when Jonathan O’Connell, David A. Fahrenthold, and Jack Gillum revealed in a Washington Post story in May that Trump had abruptly shifted strategies and begun spending hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to fund projects. In the nine years before he ran for President, the Post reported, the Trump Organization spent more than four hundred million dollars in cash on new properties—including fourteen transactions paid in full… But his largest cash purchase was the Turnberry, followed by tens of millions of dollars in additional cash outlays for rehabbing the property.

Using what appears to be more than half of the company’s available cash to purchase Trump Turnberry makes no obvious sense for any business person, but especially for Donald Trump…

But, if he had used the three hundred million dollars he spent on Turnberry as a pledge, he could have surely received several hundred million in loans at a competitive rate. With, say, a billion dollars total, he could have invested in projects around the world. Instead, he chose to put nearly all of his available cash in an old, underperforming course in a remote corner of Scotland.

…the portfolio of assets that Trump owns does not suggest that he would have so much money that he can casually spend a few hundred million on a whim. Much of his wealth is tied up in properties that lose money or are not especially profitable… There simply isn’t enough money coming into Trump’s known business to cover the massive outlay he spent on Turnberry

We do know that, in the past decade, wealthy oligarchs in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere have seen real-estate investment as a primary vehicle through which to launder money. The problem is especially egregious in the United Kingdom, where some have called the U.K. luxury real-estate industry “a money laundering machine.” Golf has been a particular focus of money laundering. Although the U.K. has strict transparency rules for financial activity within the country, its regulators have been remarkably incurious about the sources of funds coming from firms based abroad…

The goal of laundering money is to take the proceeds of a criminal activity—government corruption, tax fraud, drug trade, or many others—and to disguise its origin. Many oligarchs in the former Soviet Union who made their money by expropriating the state’s wealth want to move their money into a more stable nation with greater rule of law. This presents a challenge: How can one insert illegally obtained funds into a system that requires due diligence? The answer, quite often, is to use shell companies to disguise the flow of funds. Although we cannot say that Trump himself knowingly engaged in money laundering, we do know with certainty that much of his business in the past decade was in the industries most known for money laundering, in the locations most conducive to money laundering, and with people who bear the key hallmarks of money launderers

Did Trump take a turn, in the midst of his years-long frenzy of overseas deals with questionable partners, toward the sentimental use of his own cash to fund a hopeless money pit? Or has Trump’s business practice stayed constant? Did he purchase and rehabilitate Turnberry, as he did so much else, with other people’s money?

The president of the United States is a bagman. He is corrupt and he is owned by his funders, even if Il Trumpe, due to his narcissistic personality disorder, can’t see it.

As some asshole with a blog noted:

That’s why I think Trump doesn’t want to release his taxes–people would realize he’s nothing more than a bagman and a cover for some really reprehensible people. He ‘makes’ a lot of his money–and at a critical juncture in the late 1990s, maybe most of it–as a cover and/or pass through for shady or even illicit profits.


The irony is that, had Trump lost, nobody would care about any of this. This is what scares the hell out of him: he has to realize this will be bad–and this is one situation he can’t talk or bribe his way out of either. He has to know that much of the money came from really shady, if not illegal, sources. Furthermore, this is a blow to his ego: people bought his properties to launder money, not because he’s a genius builder.


*This doesn’t just include the various and sundry conservative batshitloonitarians, but many self-styled centrists who just don’t want to believe the president of the U.S. is fundamentally corrupt.

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1 Response to Il Trumpe Is A Bagman: The Turnberry Edition

  1. John Kane says:

    Really, I think you are being unkind to Trump. Bagman sounds so crass. Money launderer is a much more dignified term.

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