We talk Trump, Mogilevich, Epstein, Giuliani, Fred Trump, Roy Cohn, and more.
|by Greg Olear|
I DID NOT COME EASILY to the conclusion that Donald John Trump was a money launderer for the Russian mob. When I wrote Dirty Rubles in the spring of 2018, I was reluctant to make definitive accusations regarding the president’s relationship to organized crime. I had to be positive, before I said it with confidence.
Lincoln’s Bible (@lincolnsbible) always knew. She knew from the gate. And she was not shy about sharing her vast knowledge. She understands the workings of the mafiya better than anyone not paid to understand it. With her colleagues Louise Neufeld and Jay McKenzie, she established Citjourno.org, a consortium of “self-funded citizen researchers” that serves as a bulwark against the underworld enemy “attacking and overwhelming the Fourth Estate.” That site is required reading, particularly “Poke the Bear,” published 3 November 2017, which connects a series of dots to reveal, basically, a bunch of mobbed-up Russian nesting dolls with Trump on the inside.
Hers is one of a select handful of Twitter accounts that are absolute must-follows. I’m quite sure that in the last three years, I’ve RT’d her more than anyone else. (She’s also a terrific editor who helped me hone one of the pieces I wrote about Brett Kavanaugh during his hearing). Eric Garland, of Game Theory fame, once told me, “There’s no one on Twitter I trust more than Lincoln’s Bible.” (Later, he added Lisa Page and Sally Yates to his short list). I quite agree.
Here is our interview, conducted this past week:
Greg Olear: Why did you choose the name Lincoln’s Bible?
Lincoln’s Bible: Symbolism is one of the most powerful tools of the Presidency. In 2008, the Library of Congress offered Abraham Lincoln’s personal bible to President Obama for his swearing-in ceremony. It was a potent symbol of our progress as a republic—as a people, striving for unity. So, when I saw donald put his filthy, blood-drenched, mob-money-laundering paw on it to swear his oath of office, I was rightfully offended. The Library of Congress didn’t offer Lincoln’s bible to donald. He demanded it from them, so that he could taint that symbolic moment in our history. He was using his oath of office—his oath—simply to troll Obama. When I saw that, I decided to avenge that noble book, take to donald’s favorite platform (Twitter), and expose him for the wretched criminal he is.
GO: I see you are not capitalizing the “D” in “Donald.”
LB: I don’t capitalize “donald.” It’s very intentional.
GO: Short fingers, lowercase “d.” Got it. Along with your fellow “citizen journalist” K. Louise Neufeld, you have long been an expert on the Russian mob. On all things mob, actually. How did you acquire this knowledge? Why is the subject of such interest to you?
LB: Lou is a phenomenal, collaborative force. Her ability to balance small details and big picture easily out-paces me.
GO: Agreed. She’s amazing.
LB: I’ve studied organized crime, very loosely, for years (mostly, through reading and open source research). I’ve had a couple writing projects that involved mobsters, so I had some deeper knowledge around those individual stories. I knew about the intersection between Roy Cohn, the Outfit, and Cosa Nostra. I knew how NYC construction fit into that intersection. I knew about Cody and the concrete cartel, etc. But I had no deep knowledge on how mob-owned the Trump family was before donald came down that stupid escalator.
GO: For all of us, a descent into hell.
LB: Ha! Yes. (sigh)
Anyhoos, as for Russian organized crime, I learned something personal about donald back in the mid-00s that put Russian money on my radar. But it was when Craig Unger dropped Mogilevich’s name in his 2017 New Republic article that the Russian mafia clicked into view. It’s been a daily, deep dive ever since.
Organized crime—the real workings of it (not the movie versions)—is a very complex world, driven by a very simple motivator: money. I can’t explain why I’m so focused on it. Or why I have an aptitude for it. But I do learn something new every day. I think it’s going to be like this for awhile.
GO: Well, I mean, the scope is breathtaking. Audacious. It never fails to blow my mind, the evil shit these fuckers come up with.
Starting with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment in 1974, and intensifying after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian mafiya basically pushed out La Cosa Nostra and the Camorra in New York especially, but also in Miami, Denver, and elsewhere. It was akin to gentrification, with the Vor being hipsters opening up a new neighborhood—only for criminal purposes.
LB: You’ve got some geographical and absorption issues in the lead up to that question, but I dig the metaphor.
GO: Thanks. It was in the 1990s when Donald John Trump began laundering money for the Russian mafiya. But his family’s mob ties go back long before that, correct?
LB: Yes. Since Grandpa Drumpf.
GO: Right, the pimp. Classy guy. And Donald’s daddy was also involved with organized crime. Briefly, what was Fred Trump’s deal, mob-wise?
LB: Well, I could be super brief, and just say he was the businessman front for the Genovese crime family. But since that hasn’t been properly covered in the press (only Wayne Barrett had the balls to cover Fred), I should give a little more meat, so that folks can really grasp it.
To best understand Fred, just track his rise from single-family home construction to big residential developments. From Shore Haven (1947) to Beach Haven to Trump Village, all were done with known mafia partners, in Genovese-controlled territory, and eventually with a fully Genovese-owned construction company (HRH Construction).
When the Russian mafiya began rolling in, they landed in Fred’s properties and partnered with the Genovese on some big ticket scams. This was also during the time that Fred and his attorney Roy Cohn set up S&A concrete (via Nick Auletta)—a joint venture between Tony Salerno (Genovese boss) and Paul Castellano (Gambino boss), so that donald could build in Manhattan. Remember donald’s quote, “Even my father, he said, you don’t want to go to Manhattan. That’s not our territory?” That’s because Manhattan, for construction, was Gambino territory. They controlled the concrete and unions. And Fred was a very loyal, shrewd front for the Genovese. To get his idiot, greedy kid into Manhattan, Fred and Roy Cohn had to get those two mob bosses to agree on a joint venture.
A bunch of really terrible Russian mafia capos, tied to the Kremlin and Mogilevich, started landing in donald’s Manhattan properties after that.
GO: Ivankov! Weird, isn’t it, how similar his last name is to Ivanka’s first name.
LB: There’s a lot more on Fred. But you get the gist. The Trumps are a crime family, through and through.
GO: Rudy Giuliani, whose father was a lesser mobster, built his reputation prosecuting Italian mobsters. In the process, he made it easier for the Russians to move in. Do you think this was intentional?
LB: Yes. I do.
While a young prosecutor, Rudy knew the Brighton Beach mafiya boss, Evsei Agron, and dropped a criminal case against Agron’s best friend and “rabbi,” Ronald Greenwald (of Nixon CREEP fame).
GO: Both Agron and Greenwald are discussed at length in Friedman’s Red Mafiya, as you know. And no, this Greenwald is no relation to the Snowden apologist Brazilian ex-pat deza boy. Sorry, back to Rudy…
LB: Somewhere between the Greenwald case and his prosecutions of Ivan Boesky & Michael Milken would be my guess as to the “when” Giuliani switched families.
GO: Wow, I haven’t heard those names in a while.
[Note: We did this interview on 18 February. Within six hours of LB writing about Milken, and me making that joke, TRUMP PARDONED HIM!!!]
When asked if he was worried that Trump would throw him under the bus, Giuliani replied that he had “insurance,” and that even if he sustained metaphorical injury, his medical bills would be paid. What does this mean, do you think?
LB: Here’s the thing…and it’s NYC mob gossip, but I trust the source. Rudy and donald hate each other. Capital “H” hate. They both have dirt on one another. And, for both, it’s as bad as it gets. Cocaine, corruption, and bloody mob shit. So they’re stuck together. Don’t look for one to turn on the other. Unless drugs/alcohol/dementia takes over, and they burn each other down as they internally crumble.
GO: I hate both of them intensely, so I have no problem believing they hate each other. Maybe one day they can share a prison cell, and star in an ADX Florence production of Sartre’s No Exit.
LB: I have no comeback for that.
GO: Or Sater’s No Exit? Okay, I’ll stop.
Everything about Jeffrey Epstein was weird, but “Epstein was murdered” is now a conspiracy theory cottage industry. We know he was associated with the Russian mafiya, through his relationship with Ghislaine Maxwell, whose father, Robert, was business partners with Semion Mogilevich, head of the Vor. I’m more interested in Epstein’s finances than his death. What’s your take on this?
LB: Epstein laundered money for global arms dealers. I feel more than confident in making that statement, and it would be a great service to the public if journalists focused on his money rather than death conspiracies. Stop getting distracted and just follow the fucking money.
GO: That sounds so simple, and yet the media, with a few exceptions, cannot seem to do it. Here’s another example. We never did find out #WhoOwnsKavanaugh. That’s another situation, as with Epstein, where the media was distracted from following the money by a more lurid angle on the story. Not to disparage Christine Blasey Ford, who I think is heroic for coming forward. It just seems like the media is like an old circuit breaker—it can only handle so much at once.
LB: Agreed. And I don’t think it’s too late to get answers on Kavanaugh’s money. We were on the path to learning something in his first hearing, when Senator Booker released that trove of documents, and Senator Leahy was spilling about past issues with Kavanaugh. This was right before the letter Dr. Ford wrote to Senator Feinstein was leaked—causing the great distraction. And the Guardian reported that sometime before the letter was leaked, Dr. Ford’s email was hacked (which would explain the leak, since Senator Feinstein is clear it didn’t come from her office). Someone should follow up on all of that. My guess is they’re all of a piece.
GO: One of the problems with the coverage of Trump/Russia is that the media, as currently constituted, is very good at generating content for a 24-hour news cycle, but terrible at circling back and providing a Big Picture, an overview. This is something I’ve tried to do for the last three years, as you have, as others have.
You work in Hollywood, as a screenwriter. I’m a novelist and ghostwriter. Louise Mensch wrote a bunch of romance novels before she was in Parliament. Eric Garland is a futurist, also trained to look at the Big Picture. Do you think there is some correlation, or is that just a coincidence?
LB: Storytellers understand two things: character and world. We look at how a character progresses over time, and what motivates him/her. We understand them through the world they live in—the things they have to do to survive and thrive based on the rules of that world. So, no. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that people who understand character and world have a firm grasp on the context of Trump/Russia. I think it’s a goddamn travesty that people who don’t are controlling the narrative.