Money Laundering at the Heart of Trump-Russia Collusion

Today I’ve been thinking about some information Richard Greene collected from psychiatrists about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

There are only two ways to deal with someone with NPD, and they are both dangerous. There is no healthy way of interacting with someone with this affliction. If you criticize them they will lash out at you and if they have a great deal of power, that can be consequential. If you compliment them it only acts to increase the delusional and grandiose reality the sufferer has created, causing him to be even more reliant on constant and endless compliments and unwavering support.

To the extent that Trump fits the criteria of someone with NPD, his Tweet storms yesterday could be the kind of lashing out that happens when he feels threatened. We don’t know for certain what those threats might be, but we have a couple of clues.

The first came in the form of an op-ed by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, the two men who run Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the Steele Dossier. They called for the public release of their 21 hours of testimony before congressional committees and summarized some of what they’d said.

We walked investigators through our yearlong effort to decipher Mr. Trump’s complex business past, of which the Steele dossier is but one chapter…

The intelligence committees have known for months that credible allegations of collusion between the Trump camp and Russia were pouring in from independent sources during the campaign…

We suggested investigators look into the bank records of Deutsche Bank and others that were funding Mr. Trump’s businesses…

We told Congress that from Manhattan to Sunny Isles Beach, Fla., and from Toronto to Panama, we found widespread evidence that Mr. Trump and his organization had worked with a wide array of dubious Russians in arrangements that often raised questions about money laundering…

Yes, we hired Mr. Steele, a highly respected Russia expert. But we did so without informing him whom we were working for and gave him no specific marching orders beyond this basic question: Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?

What came back shocked us. Mr. Steele’s sources in Russia (who were not paid) reported on an extensive — and now confirmed — effort by the Kremlin to help elect Mr. Trump president. Mr. Steele saw this as a crime in progress and decided he needed to report it to the F.B.I.

All of that, combined with an opening statement that the Steele dossier is but one chapter of their investigation, is quite the bombshell. But it’s not the only one. David Smith has the scoop on what Steve Bannon told Michael Wolff about the Mueller investigation.

[Bannon] is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York…

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”…

“You realise where this is going,” he is quoted as saying. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

Who knows why Bannon would say those things to a reporter? But it is important to keep in mind that, as he would put it, “disdain for Jared Kushner takes up a lot of space inside his head.” In the process though, he’s implicating Don Jr., which inevitably leads right back to the president.

The common theme from both of these reports is criminal money laundering that could be uncovered in the Trump family accounts at Deutsch Bank. Last summer the president said that he considered his family’s personal finances a “red line” that Mueller should not cross. The special prosecutor obviously didn’t heed that warning and has since subpoenaed records from Deutsch Bank. Here is what he is probably looking for:

In a statement, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said, “Special Counsel Mueller’s subpoena of Deutsche Bank would be a very significant development. If Russia laundered money through the Trump Organization, it would be far more compromising than any salacious video and could be used as leverage against Donald Trump and his associates and family.”

Steve Bannon and the folks at Fusion GPS know the jig is up and are going public about what is coming down the pike from Mueller, so Trump is lashing out. Since he has a great deal of power, that is consequential.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.