Did Vladimir Putin Buy Himself a U.S. President?

During the 2016 presidential election, we often heard that Donald Trump filed for bankruptcy several times. As the Washington Post reported, he did so a total of six times.

Trump’s Taj Mahal opened in April 1990 in Atlantic City, but six months later, “defaulted on interest payments to bondholders as his finances went into a tailspin,” The Washington Post’s Robert O’Harrow found. In July 1991, Trump’s Taj Mahal filed for bankruptcy. He could not keep up with debts on two other Atlantic City casinos, and those two properties declared bankruptcy in 1992. A fourth property, the Plaza Hotel in New York, declared bankruptcy in 1992 after amassing debt.

PolitiFact uncovered two more bankruptcies filed after 1992, totaling six. Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts filed for bankruptcy again in 2004, after accruing about $1.8 billion in debt. Trump Entertainment Resorts also declared bankruptcy in 2009, after being hit hard during the 2008 recession.

Following that string of bankruptcies in the 1990’s, U.S. banks pretty much blackballed the Trump organization, but he rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. That is pretty much what Donald Trump, Jr. affirmed in 2008.

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Golf-writer James Dodson recently told a similar story that he heard from son Eric Trump in 2014. He was invited to play a round of golf with father and son.

“Trump was strutting up and down, talking to his new members about how they were part of the greatest club in North Carolina,” Dodson says. “And when I first met him, I asked him how he was — you know, this is the journalist in me — I said, ‘What are you using to pay for these courses?’ And he just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million.”

$100 million.

“So when I got in the cart with Eric,” Dodson says, “as we were setting off, I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’ And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.‘ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’

Add that to the fact that from 2015 to 2016 Trump’s debt almost doubled, to an estimated $630 million from $350 million and you have to begin to wonder whether or not Vladimir Putin (via his band of loyal oligarchs) actually bought a U.S. President. Who needs “golden showers” to blackmail a man the American public knew reveled in sexual assault when you already own him?

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.