Last night, Rachel Maddow did a long piece on a New Yorker article, and then interviewed the author Adam Davidson. The headline and sub-heading should give a good idea what the story, which took three months to research was about --
DONALD TRUMP’S WORST DEAL
The President helped build a hotel in Azerbaijan that appears to be a corrupt operation engineered by oligarchs tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
The short version of the story begins with Ziya Mammadov, the Transportation Minister of Azerbaijan who has a salary of $12,000 but somehow has become a billionaire. In an official U.S. cable, a diplomat called Mammadov "notoriously corrupt even for Azerbaijan." Foreign Policy magazine did a cover story on him, titled "The Corleones of the Caspian." He is linked to Iran's terrorist Revolutionary Guard and reported to have laundered massive millions from them to build road projects in his country.
And the Trump organization had a long-standing deal with him to build a Trump hotel in the city of Baku, which was cancelled only after Trump became president.
Not only "in the city," but in a bizarrely out-of-the-way location, far from the main hotel district. In fact, as the article says --
"A former top official in Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Tourism says that, when he learned of the Trump hotel project, he asked himself, 'Why would someone put a luxury hotel there? Nobody who can afford to stay there would want to be in that neighborhood.'”
As author Davidson notes, it is a significant federal crime to deal with lose who fund terrorism, where penalties can by in the hundreds of millions. When he asked the Trump organization for their due diligence on the project with Mammadov, they kept insisting it was all good, but never would show it to him. When he asked others what the odds are that a company would do real due diligence on Mammadov and go forth with a building project, the answer he kept getting back was..."Zero."
You can read the full article here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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