DONALD TRUMP'S MOB CONNECTIONS
EXCERPT FROM DEMOCRACY NOW ON PBS, AUGUST 10, 2016
AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Senator Rubio and, before him, Donald Trump. And, of course, then there recently Joe Scarborough, the talk show host who's a former Republican conservative congress member, saying he heard from an international diplomat who was advising Donald Trump—Trump said to the person three times, "If we have nuclear weapons, why don't we use them?"
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, this is indicative of Donald doesn't know anything. I mean, if Marco Rubio, who is pretty much an empty suit, has to school you on something this basic, that should have screamed to people back in December, "This man has no qualifications!" He doesn't qualify to be in Congress, much less be president of the United States. On the other hand, in his own mind, of course, Donald is the greatest living person. And, Amy, if you don't appreciate that, Donald has a word for you: "Loser!"
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: David, I wanted to ask you about this issue which we discussed previously with Wayne Barrett, as well, on the issue of Donald Trump's relationship to the mob and his connections over the years to mobsters. And you've also looked into that, as well.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yes, and it's not just the traditional Mafia families in New York. First of all, Donald Trump's father had a business partner who was a mob guy. I'm sure Wayne talked about that. But Donald has done business with people with the Russian mob. He's done business with con artists. The guy who supplied his helicopters and managed his personal helicopter, called the Ivana, from his first wife back then, was a major cocaine trafficker, who actually handled the drugs. And after he went to prison, Donald wrote a letter pleading for mercy for him, so he got 18 months as the head of the ring. The little fish who delivered the drugs, they got 20 years. Donald continued to do business with him after he was indicted. Donald has done business all his life with mobsters and criminals, because it's a way to make money.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Joseph Weichselbaum?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yes, that's the guy. Joseph Weichselbaum is this mob associate. He once—he used to do Cigarette boat racing in Miami, and he once was—came in third, right behind Charles Keating, the infamous financier who ripped off people for a billion dollars. And Weichselbaum provided helicopters to the Trump Organization, even though there were better-capitalized, better-run companies. Donald rented an apartment to Weichselbaum and his brother under very unusual circumstances.
When Weichselbaum was indicted, it was for a drug operation that went from Miami to Ohio. When he agreed to plead guilty, the case was mysteriously moved to New Jersey. And who did it come before? Federal Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, Donald's older sister. No one knows how this happened. Now, she removed herself from the case, but imagine, Amy, that you, or one of the listeners, you're the chief judge, and the judge comes to you and says, "Oh, I can't handle this case, because I fly in this drug trafficker's helicopters. My husband flies in them every week. My children have flown in this drug trafficker's helicopters." You know, it helps explain how this guy got a light sentence.
And the question we have to ask is: Why did Donald Trump need to write that letter, which could have cost him his casino license? Because he needed this guy to be his friend and not his enemy. What was going on that Donald Trump needed a drug trafficker to be his friend and not his enemy? And that's a question no one in the news media has been asking.
AMY GOODMAN: You got a call -
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Except me.
AMY GOODMAN: You got a call from Donald Trump over this?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: I got a call related to this, yes. I wrote a piece for Politico magazine back in April about all of Donald Trump's connections. And Donald finally called me. He's had my home number for years. He's called me at home in the past. And he said to me, "Well, you know, you've written a lot of things I like. But if I don't like what you're writing, I'm going to sue you." I said, "Well, Donald, you're a public figure." In America, that means that he would have to prove that I deliberately, knowingly told a lie about him. And he said, "I know I'm a public figure, but I'll sue you anyway." And it's one of the reasons the news coverage of him has been so soft. He has threatened to sue everybody. That Politico piece that I wrote, I've been an investigative reporter for almost 50 years; I've never been lawyered like I was for that piece. And it didn't have anything that hadn't been published before. He has intimidated the news organizations, and they're not willing to talk about that.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, in your book, you go into a story, not about his father, who's been well known and covered previously by other publications, but about his grandfather. Talk about Donald Trump's grandfather.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Donald Trump's grandfather, Frederick, when he turned 16 in 1885, was subject to mandatory military service in Germany, so he fled the country and came to America. And then he followed Horace Greeley's advice: "Go West, young man." And he went into the whorehouse business. And he ran bordellos in Seattle, in Everett, Washington, and in the Yukon Territory, until the Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed up. He then took his fortune, went back to Germany, married a young woman his mother didn't approve of, came back to America. His wife didn't like it. They went back to Germany. He figured, with all his money, he could buy his way in. And they said, "You're a draft dodger. Get out," and sent him back to America.
AMY GOODMAN: And then, talk about his father, Fred Trump.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Well, Fred Trump, whose father died when he was 12 or 13 years old, was a very industrious guy. When he was 15 years old, he started a business - technically owned by his mother, because he couldn't sign contracts—building garages in the outer boroughs of New York for these newfangled thing called automobiles. When the market collapsed because of the Great Depression, he invented one of the first grocery stores. People used to have clerks give them their canned goods and stuff. He opened one where you did your own, and then sold it for a profit.
He built housing during World War II for shipyard workers and is said to be the first person in line to get federal money to build worker housing. He was a profiteer. Dwight D. Eisenhower personally went into a rage over what he had done, how he'd ripped stuff off, and he had a creative explanation when he was called before the U.S. Senate to justify what he did. He said, "I didn't profiteer. I didn't take the money. It's in the bank account." Strange way to think about things. And, of course, they discriminated against everybody who wasn't white, and were proven to have done this in the '50s and in the '70s. And Woody Guthrie, the folk singer, "This Land is Your Land," he wrote a song, which is in the book thanks to the generosity of the Guthrie family, about one of the all-white outer suburb projects owned by Fred Trump.
AMY GOODMAN: That he had an apartment in.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Yes, that's right, that he lived in.
AMY GOODMAN: You tell a story about Fred Trump's son, his older son, Donald Trump's brother, and what happened to his family, and particularly his grandchild -
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: - after the father, Fred Trump, died, and what Donald Trump did to him.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: So, keep in mind he sought mercy for a drug trafficker. So, Freddy Trump Jr. died of alcoholism early. And when Old Man Trump died, he had a new grandson - a great-grandson, who was born a few days later - very sickly child, nearly died several times, huge medical bills. Everyone in the Trump family gets medical insurance from the Trump Organization. Donald is a big believer in healthcare. It's one of the positive things you can say about him. And the line of Freddy Trump Jr., when they realized they'd been effectively cut out of the will, filed a lawsuit. "Hey, you know, you guys are dividing the money up four ways instead of five." Donald immediately cut off the healthcare for this sickly child.
AMY GOODMAN: This is his grandnephew.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: His grandnephew. And he's asked about this. And he says, "Well, I don't like people who sue my father." And he was told, "Well, don't you think this will look cold-hearted? You're putting the life of this child in jeopardy." "Well, what else am I to do?" And that's an essential element to understanding Donald Trump. You don't exist, Amy, I don't exist, as a person. That's why he talks about women the way he does, in these degrading terms. Donald doesn't see other people as people. He sees them as things to be used. And put the life of a child in jeopardy for more money? Donald thinks nothing is wrong with that. That's - of course you would do that, if you're Donald. If you wouldn't do it, what's wrong with you? That would be Donald's attitude.
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