The Trumpanos

To understand the Trump White House, one needs only remember whence Mr. Trump hails. He is the quintessential New York City and New Jersey real estate mogul and casino magnate. As such, he has had a long and close relationship with organized crime. It is not surprising that he is running the government the way Tony Soprano would. Here are some facts, based in part on an article that appeared in Politico in May 2016.  

Trump’s links to organized crime date back to the early 1970s when he befriended Roy Cohn, a mob consigliere whose clients included “Fat Tony” Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, and Paul Castellano, head of the Gambinos. Both families were deeply involved in the concrete business that supplied material for Trump Tower. The indictment that led to the imprisonment of Salerno 1988 listed $8M of concrete provided for Trump Plaza, another of the Don’s projects. Before Trump Tower could be built, the old Bonwit Teller department store on the site had to be demolished. That work was done by illegal Polish immigrants working for contractors under the protection of the Genovese crime family. Eventually, Trump was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the workers and paid $325,000 under a sealed settlement.  

When Trump decided to build his first casino in New Jersey, his license application was approved in far less time than was usually the case. He denied any wrongdoing when questioned by the FBI and allegations of improprieties quietly disappeared. Trump was widely believed to have cut an under-the-table deal with then NJ Attorney General, John Degnan. Although probably unrelated, in 2014 NJ Governor Chris Christy appointed Mr. Degnan, retired chairman of the Chubb insurance company, to head the Port Authority of NY and NJ in the wake of the Ft. Lee lane closure scandal.

In the mid-1980s, Trump’s helicopter pilot, Joseph Weichselbaum, who had a record for embezzlement, was indicted for trafficking in marijuana and cocaine. Trump defended him as “a credit to the community.” After he was released from prison, Weichselbaum and his girlfriend “bought” adjacent apartments in Trump Tower for $2.4M. However, there is no evidence that any money actually changed hands raising the question of whether Trump was paying him for some services. By 2016, Trump appeared to have forgotten that he ever knew the man even though Wiechselbaum has said that he tried to convince the Don to break off his affair with Marla Maples.

This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. Read the Politico article for more details on Trump’s close association with the underworld. When you do, the fact that the Trump White House resembles the Bada Bing will make much more sense.

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