Applying Occam’s razor to a situation that at the moment looks and smells like swamp water makes no sense. We’re no closer to knowing what Donald Trump means to Vladimir Putin, Putin’s apparatchiks, and the billionaire kleptocrats in Russia other than to suppose blackmail may play a large part, and Trump’s tax returns are the crucial piece. Josh Marshall, who has tried imposing coherence on this inchoate mess of innuendo, rumor, and puzzling fact, puts the following together, based on what he and many of us have observed in Trump, that “in his mind, what Donald Trump thinks is right. Not just right but the rightest.
In the late 90s and early aughts, Donald Trump ran out of lenders. A string of bankruptcies on top of numerous ventures where he walked away unscathed and lenders lost their shirts convinced every major US bank to stop lending to him. The only exception is DeutscheBank, which of course is not a US bank. This put Trump’s whole family business under great strain. In response he increasingly took capital from abroad, especially from Russia and other post-Soviet successor states. Whether this was the influence of lawyer Michael Cohen or his almost decade long business partnership with Felix Sater and his coterie doesn’t really matter for present purposes. It did happen. None of this is speculation. All of this happened. What we don’t know is quite the degree of his dependence on money from the former Soviet Union, both for investment capital and for the purchase the numerous apartment units which make up his ubiquitous high-rises. None of this is illegal or wrong. Foreign capital is pervasive in the New York City area real estate market.
“The final reason this theory makes sense to me is that Trump’s world is pervasively disorganized and corrupt,” Marshall writes. “That’s less fertile ground for conspiracies than influence operations, which is easy to reconcile with what I’ve set forth above.” It’s possible these suppositions concern matters that may not violate any laws, international or American. But the United States has never elected a man with so extensive a portfolio, who has made a living attaching a name to third-rate entities only to withdraw as things go to pot. Sitting in the Oval Office, finally, is a plutocrat who hasn’t divested enough of his holdings for a person with a frontal lobe to conclude that conflicts of interest wouldn’t bedevil him whenever Air Force One lands in a foreign country.