Achtung Donny

Donald Trump’s first wife, Ivana, reported that Trump’s cousin John Walter would click his heels and say “Heil Hitler” whenever visiting Trump in his office. Ivana was a high-ranking executive at the Trump Organization during the couple’s marriage, managing one of the Atlantic City casinos and later the Plaza Hotel.

Although Fred Trump was born in New Jersey, family members say he felt compelled to hide his German background because most of his tenants were Jewish. “After the war, he thought that Jews would never rent from him if they knew his lineage,” Ivana reportedly said. Certainly, Fred Trump’s camouflage could easily convey to a child the impression that in business anything goes. When I asked Donald Trump about this, he was evasive: “Actually, it was very difficult. My father was not German; my father’s parents were German . . . Swedish, and really sort of all over Europe . . . and I was even thinking in the second edition of putting more emphasis on other places because I was getting so many letters from Sweden: Would I come over and speak to Parliament? Would I come meet with the president?”

Donald Trump appears to take aspects of his German background seriously. John Walter works for the Trump Organization, and when he visits Donald in his office, Ivana told a friend, he clicks his heels and says, “Heil Hitler,” possibly as a family joke.

(Vanity Fair, September, 1990)

Bad Deal

Donald Trump has denied knowing Robert Libutti, but there is video tape (there’s always a tape) of Trump and Libutti attending the World Wrestling Federation’s 1988 Wrestlemania together. One of Trump’s casinos was once fined $200,000 for pulling black and female employees off the floor at LiButti’s request.  Casino regulators banned LiButti from gambling anywhere in New Jersey because of his close ties to infamous crime lord John Gotti. (Incidentally, Gotti and Trump attended the same prep school).

A newly uncovered video appears to contradict Donald Trump’s claim that he never knew a high-stakes gambler who was banned from New Jersey casinos for alleged ties to organized crime. The reputed mob figure, Robert LiButti, can be seen standing alongside Trump in the front row of a 1988 “WrestleMania” match in Atlantic City, N.J. LiButti wasn’t there by accident, according to his daughter, Edith Creamer, who also attended the event. “We were his guests,” she told Yahoo News in a text message this week. […]

The video appears to lend new support to assertions Trump once had close relations with LiButti, who was banned from the state’s casinos in 1991 because of his ties to Mafia boss John Gotti, then the chief of the Gambino crime syndicate. Separately, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission that same year levied $650,000 in fines against the Trump Plaza hotel over its dealings with LiButti, who gambled huge sums at the hotel’s casino. LiButti died in 2014.

The video could raise fresh questions about two separate investigations by casino regulators that led to the huge fines levied in 1991. In one of those cases, Trump’s hotel was fined $200,000 for violating state anti-discrimination laws. Investigators found that the casino accommodated LiButti’s demand — couched in what one state official described as the “vilest” language, including racial and obscene slurs — that blacks and women be kept away from him at the gambling tables. Trump was never questioned as part of the state’s investigation, files reviewed by Yahoo News show.

(Yahoo News, November 2, 2016)

Dirty Laundry

Trump’s largest Atlantic City casino, the Taj Mahal, was caught breaking money-laundering laws at least 106 times in its first years of operation. The story was broken by CNN in May of 2017, based on records obtained from Congressional investigators.

The Trump Taj Mahal casino broke anti-money laundering rules 106 times in its first year and a half of operation in the early 1990s, according to the IRS in a 1998 settlement agreement. It’s a bit of forgotten history that’s buried in federal records held by an investigative unit of the Treasury Department, records that congressional committees investigating Trump’s ties to Russia have obtained access to, CNN has learned.  (CNN, May 22, 2017)

The prosecution of drug dealers for laundering money at Trump Taj Mahal was not a national news story, however it did make the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer on December 29, 1999. Here is an image of that day’s front page. Scroll down for a close up of the story.

The story noted that members of a cartel based in Hong Kong had laundered $70,000 earned from drug sales made in the United States. The laundered money was then couriered directly to Hong Kong.

Bedtime Story

The allegation that Donald Trump kept a copy of Hitler’s speeches in a cabinet beside his bed was first made by Ivana Trump. When Marie Brenner of Vanity Fair asked about the book, Trump grew defensive but notably did not deny that he did in fact own a book written by Hitler. Trump claimed that the book was Mein Kampf and had been given to him by a Jewish friend. But his friend Marty Davis admitted giving Trump a book of speeches by Hitler called My New Order and denied that he was Jewish.

Last April, perhaps in a surge of Czech nationalism, Ivana Trump told her lawyer Michael Kennedy that from time to time her husband reads a book of Hitler’s collected speeches, My New Order, which he keeps in a cabinet by his bed. Kennedy now guards a copy of My New Order in a closet at his office, as if it were a grenade. Hitler’s speeches, from his earliest days up through the Phony War of 1939, reveal his extraordinary ability as a master propagandist.

“Did your cousin John give you the Hitler speeches?” I asked Trump.

Trump hesitated. “Who told you that?”

“I don’t remember,” I said.

“Actually, it was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of Mein Kampf, and he’s a Jew.” (“I did give him a book about Hitler,” Marty Davis said. “But it was My New Order, Hitler’s speeches, not Mein Kampf. I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.”)

Later, Trump returned to this subject. “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”

(Vanity Fair, September, 1990)