The Rolling Stone article is based on an excerpt from Hettena’s book, Trump/Russia: A Definitive History.
  • The Rolling Stone article is based on an excerpt from Hettena’s book, Trump/Russia: A Definitive History.
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The April 10 issue of Rolling Stone features an intriguing story, “A Brief History of Michael Cohen’s Criminal Ties” by Seth Hettena, who lives in San Diego with his wife and sons. The subtitle of the article is “From the Russian mob to money launderers, Trump’s personal attroney has long been a subject of interest to federal investigators.” (Full disclosure: I don’t know Hettena, a former Associated Press reporter, but in an article in the January 3, 2008 Voice of San Diego, he called me a “bitter, angry man.” That hasn’t affected my opinion of his investigatory skills.)

Seth Hettena called Bauder a “bitter, angry man.”

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The Rolling Stone article is based on an excerpt from Hettena’s book, Trump/Russia: A Definitive History, to be published by Melville House Publishing on May 8th. If the book is as good as the excerpt, it should be an eye-opening read.

In Rolling Stone, we learn that both Cohen’s father and uncle hung around the Russian Mafiya in New York. Cohen was introduced to Trump by his father-in-law, a naturalized American citizen from Ukraine. Later, Cohen was able to buy a $1 million condo at Trump World Tower in 2001, persuading his parents and Ukrainian in-laws to buy into Trump buildings. Next step: Cohen purchased a nearly $5 million unit in Trump Park Avenue. “In a five-year period, he and people connected to him would purchase Trump properties worth $17.3 million,” writes Hettena.

When Trump was running for president, reporters noticed that questions about Trump’s business or taxes would go to the chief legal officer or other staffers, “but Cohen handled questions about Russia,” says the article. One person testified to Congress that “serious questions about Donald Trump’s activities in Russia and the former Soviet Union went to Michael Cohen,” who was the only one who had information on those topics. It was well known “that Cohen’s father-in-law was funneling money into Trump ventures.”

Trump had his brand on Sunny Isles Beach condo towers in Florida. “An investigation by Reuters found that at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in the seven Trump-branded properties,” says the article. A former prosecutor who “tracked the flows of Russian criminal money into Trump’s properties” told Hettena that “Trump’s genius — or evil genius — was, instead of Russian criminal money being passive, incidental income, it became a central partr of the business plan…[the Florida condo development was] not called ‘Little Moscow’ for nothing. The street signs are in Russian.”

Writes Hettena, “Cohen joined the Trump Organization around the time that the second Sunny Isles tower was being built.” An investigator said, “The Trump organization used lawyers to allow people to get money into the country.” Trump had taken a major pratfall in Atlantic City casinos. “There is no question Trump owed his [financial] comeback in large part to Russian expatriates.”

Finally, the article says that Felix Sater, the long-time Trump ally who claims he provided information to United States investigators, allegedly sent an email to Cohen in 2015, saying, “Michael I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putin’s private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin…I will get Putin in this program and we will get Donald [Trump] elected…Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer. I will get all of Putin's team to buy in on this."

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Comments

monaghan April 17, 2018 @ 3:36 p.m.

Generous of Don Bauder to admire the reportorial skills of Seth Hettena in his recent astonishing Rolling Stone story on Trump's lawyer's ties to the Russian Mafia while linking to a decade-old Hettena hit piece on Reader publisher Jim Holman and his lazy bitter staff of Readerwriters. I don't know, maybe Bauder is obliquely angling for a raise, even though the Reader today is a shadow of its former ad-rich self.

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Don Bauder April 17, 2018 @ 6:38 p.m.

monaghan: I am used to having a target on my back. I was sent Hettena's story by my wife,who had seen it online. I began reading, hoping there was a San Diego angle. The name Seth Hettena seemed familiar. I went online and found he lived in San Diego. Then it came back. I found the 2008 story in which Jim Holman, Matt Potter and I had been attacked. Jim immediately posted the story, suggesting to me he didn't care whatever was written about us in 2008. That's the way it should be.

Hettena has written a very important story. The gist is that after Trump fell apart financially after the failure of the Atlantic City casinos (and other misadventures), the Russians bailed him out. The Russians apparently plotted how to elect their man president. They succeeded, and now are getting their money's worth. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan April 18, 2018 @ 10:51 a.m.

Golden. This is why only your closest friends and relatives who know you and I, Love You!

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 12:57 p.m.

shirleyberan: Forget any insults ten years ago or ten minutes ago. We all have to focus on one thing that is becoming clearer and clearer: Donald Trump was dead broke after his dismal casino experiences. For many years, he had known, socialized, and done business with gangsters, both Russian and American. The Russian mob bailed out Trump and then some of its members, such as Cohen and Sater, worked on pumping Trump up. Astoundingly, they got Trump elected. Now Russia wants its quid pro quo. Among other things, it wants sanctions removed. This goes to the heart of matters involving Flynn, Manafort, and others in this drama. I think it is pretty obvious that Flynn had assured Russians that the sanctions put on by Obama would be taken off. But, I suspect, the phone call was captured by U.S. investigators.

This may or may not be the story, but I believe it is, and I hope that Hettena's book reveals it. I have seen something similar before. I will relate it without naming names, because I hope to write about it, if I live long enough. An American businessman from an old, wealthy family invested in a new pro basketball league. It almost wiped him out. The organized crime organization in a major U.S. city bailed him out. The businessman went on to become the major owner -- perhaps "owner" -- of a famous professional team. A syndicate did the original purchase. One of the members of the syndicate was the managing partner of a law firm that did nothing else but handle matters for the mob in this city. I suspect that lawyer was the funnel that got the mobsters their money back -- and then some.

I suspect something similar went on with Trump, Cohen et all. Best, Don Bauder

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swell April 18, 2018 @ 1:45 p.m.

Great story! Unfortunately, even if we get rid of Trump there is nothing to celebrate. We'll be stuck with another crackpot till the end of his term in office. We can hope that progressives (dare I say socialists?) do well in the mid-terms. And pray that tRump doesn't select any Supreme Court justices.

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shirleyberan April 18, 2018 @ 1:59 p.m.

Just Do it Don, bigger than the Golden Girl, we only need the cliff notes.

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 2:20 p.m.

shirleyberan: Of course it is bigger than Captain Money and the Golden Girl. In the big scheme of things, they were pretty small -- big in San Diego, but not elsewhere. Some people slammed the book because I didn't go to. Great Britain and Switzerland to tie up some loose ends. But these people did not understand the economics of the book business. Had I traveled the world to get the complete story, I would have lost a bundle of money. In the big picture, Dominelli and Hoover were simply not important enough to merit a deeply researched book. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan April 18, 2018 @ 2:27 p.m.

Back then we innocents never thought a thing like Trump-Russian Mafia was a possibility.

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 6:01 p.m.

shirleyberan: People in New York have known for decades that anybody in the New York real estate business, particularly construction, has to do business with mobsters. That's one reason fixers have to be middlemen. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 2:13 p.m.

swell: Pence is not bright and is a religious fanatic. However, he has been a governor and a Congressman. He knows political guile and doubletalk, although he may not be good at it. How will Trump be removed? For obvious reasons, the media are not talking about a most logical way: health. His body may not be able to stand the day by day revelations. He is a sociopath, completely devoid of a conscience, so his mind can take it, but his body may not be able to take the strain. He could be impeached and convicted. Or the 2018 elections may be so overwhelming that the Republicans will finally desert him. He could resign, saying that the strain is giving him great physical problems.

Trouble is, I worry that the House districts are so gerrymandered that the Democrats could get millions more votes than Republicans in 2018, but still pick up few seats. After all, Hillary Clinton got almost 3 million more votes than Trump, and lost. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan April 18, 2018 @ 2:15 p.m.

Don - only write about what brings you joy in doing that, otherwise enjoy the time you have. People will have to figure out for themselves what makes them stronger. Save yourself and be with your loved ones first, foremost best. If I figure out how to write a screenplay it will be a comedy of the romance kind. It's my dream, heart will go on.

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dwbat April 18, 2018 @ 4:54 p.m.

There are several books on how to write a screenplay. Check Amazon and the public library.

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 6:03 p.m.

dwbat: But could one learn the skill by reading a book? Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat April 18, 2018 @ 7:15 p.m.

Most anyone who can put words together can write a screenplay. The structure is not that complex. But that doesn't mean it's going to be any good, or that it will ever sell and become a movie.

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 9:06 p.m.

dwbat: I don't know. I doubt I could write a screenplay. Of course, I see few movies. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 9:05 p.m.

shirleyberan: Writing for the Reader gives me joy. My wife is right here to share it. Our sons, daughter-in-law and grandsons are in the Bay Area. We see them a couple of times a year and regularly talk with them by Facetime. Best, Don Bauder

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shirleyberan April 18, 2018 @ 2:50 p.m.

Donald - because Laughter Is The Best Medicine. When Barbara Bush laid down after giving all her wisdom, I still think 92 years is Not Enough. Don't be too serious, laugh more.

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 6:05 p.m.

shirleyberan: I laugh a lot. Especially these days. There is the old Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." We do, and the only thing to do is laugh. Best, Don Bauder

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Jefferson1776 April 18, 2018 @ 3:20 p.m.

The Russian organized crime figure the RS article refers to (Simon Garber) who partnered with Cohen in NY taxi business is also reported to have had close ties to the family of former Chicago Mayor Daley, whose son supposedly had many visits to Russia. Garber opened a taxi empire in Chicago that somehow seemed to expand overnight.

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swell April 18, 2018 @ 6:25 p.m.

I was close to Daley in those days. He lived a humble life in a humble home and showed no sign of undue wealth. The only questionable financial move I'm aware of was to take advantage of advance knowledge of the route of a new expressway. He and some associates invested in land that would be sold at a profit.

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 9:09 p.m.

swell: Yes, Daley lived in a humble abode. But so does Warren Buffett. You might read the book, "Boss" about Daley. Best, Don Bauder

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dwbat April 19, 2018 @ 11:37 a.m.

"showed no sign of undue wealth" But couldn't Daley simply have had illegal money hidden in an overseas bank? Remember, former mob boss Whitey Bulger was living in a cheap Santa Monica apartment when he was arrested (and he wasn't flat broke).

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Don Bauder April 18, 2018 @ 6:08 p.m.

Jefferson1776: As one who formerly lived and worked in Chicago, and was born and raised there, I understand completely. I came from DuPage County, a corrupt Republican machine. The Democratic Cook County machine was larger and much more powerful...and tied closely to organized crime. A former mayor of Chicago said the mayor has to run the mob or the mob will run the mayor. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 19, 2018 @ 12:41 p.m.

dwbat: Back in Daley's days, Switzerland dominated the offshore bank and secrecy haven business. (Maybe Liechtenstein was a distant second.) The Caribbean havens, plus those in other faraway havens (such as the Seychelles) weren't big yet. Best, Don Bauder

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SportsFan0000 April 21, 2018 @ 11:46 a.m.

Never in my lifetime have I seen so much corruption as that coming from the WH and Congress...

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Don Bauder April 21, 2018 @ 6:23 p.m.

SportsFan0000: Ditto. This is not only the worst I have seen. I never dreamt it would be this bad. Best, Don Bauder

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