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all I can do is ask the question my people came to me dan coates came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia I have president putin he just said it’s not russia i will say this i don’t see any reason why it would be I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the people I think that’s an incredible offer

Guardian News. “Key moments from the Trump-Putin press conference.” Start: 0:0:07.  Transcript machine generated.  July 16, 2018.

BackChannels has lived long enough to see “Active Measures” become a movie, “alternative facts” obtain traction in the arguments of some lost souls, and the “Fake News!” rise up en masse to denounce the source of the accusation.  Now the whole ugly stain attending the deeply foreign influenced election of America’s president has begun to seep and spread from the infernal nucleus of the Russian marriage between State and Mob and now a hint of the presence of the same in the United States of America.

How soon will the journalists be asking of the Russian mafia — and mafia generally — in America, “How broad, how deep, how high, how powerful?”


“Dear friends, respected colleagues!” Nikonov said.  “Three minutes ago Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in US presidential elections and a second ago Trump started his speech as an elected president of the United States of America and I congratulate you on this.”

Even though Nikonov did not add what many in the Kremlin already knew, his brief statement was greeted by enthusiastic applause.  Donald J. Trump had just become Vladimir Putin’s man in the White House.

Unger, Craig. House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia. Page 1.  New York: Dutton, 2018.

While readers may not find evidence quite so “hard” as a memo or recording between “Don” and “Vlad”, the darkly glittering atmosphere brewed by dirty or shady businesses, related events, FBI and other investigations, and innumerable lawsuits in all directions (with Trump Administration scandals, even the lawyers have needed lawyers) the preponderance of the evidence — in the worlds of investigators and journalists alike, the character of personal associations and relationship — becomes inescapable.


The art of reading has been changed by “broadband Internet”: these days, one may snooze between the hardcovers but also depart from any event or noun mentioned to find source and related materials online — or to chat with the “journo” should the same be so nice and unhurried as regards giving up a piece of his time o’ day.  With a book as rich in coverage as Craig Unger’s, there are mentions aplenty for mining.  Page 147, for example, a simple flip-open (it could have been any other page or chapter), makes mention of somebody “Nogueira” and a Reuters investigation — and a minute later, now listed in reference, Brad Brooks’ piece comes up (and may be read separately).  Of the man noted, here’s one more excerpt from Unger’s new book:

According to conversations secretly recorded by a former business partner, in 2013 Nogueira said he had laundered tens of millions of dollars through real estate.  “More important than the money from real estate was being able to launder the drug money — there were much larger amounts involved,” he said in the recording.  “When I was in Panama I was regularly laundering money for more than a dozen companies.”

Nogueira told Reuters that he became the leading broker for the project thanks in part to the support of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who appeared in a promotional video with him.

What did Donald Trump do?

Trump licensed his name — attractive and synonymous with glamour, power, and wealth — to the project of interest and many others worldwide.  What crime could there have been in that?  His organization also held management contracts on real estate projects, but here BackChannels will leave the details to the curious among readers; however, the same litmus applies: he nailed a service contract: so what?

On the other hand, perhaps the “so what?” is in the “with whom” and the true “for what”.

At the end of his book, Unger notes, “Donald Trump has repeatedly said he has nothing to do with Russia.  Below are fifty-nine Trump connections to Russia” (p. 265).  “Below” begins with Roman Abramovich and ends with Viktor Yanukovych.


Brooks, Brad. “Former broker in Trump Panama project under investigation in Brazil.” Reuters, November 17, 2017.

Drehle, David Von. ” Trump resume is rife with mob connections.” Op-ed. The Washington Post, August 10, 2018.

Goldberg, Jeffrey. “Donald Trump’s Mafia Mind-Set: Listening to a legendary American mobster and hearing the president of the United States.” The Atlantic, August 23, 2018.

Graham, David A. “The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet.” The Atlantic, January 23, 2017.

Hettena, Seth. “Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis and the Russian Mafia.” Rolling Stone, August 28, 2018.

Johnston, David Cay. “Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?” Politico Magazine, May 22, 2016.

Layne, Nathan, Ned Parker, Svetlana Reiter, Stephen Grey, and Ryan McNeill.  “Russian elite invested nearly $100 million in Trump buildings.”  Reuters Investigates, March 17, 2017.

Locker, Ray. “New book looks into ties between Donald Trump, Russia, but there’s more smoke than fire.” Review. USA Today, August 14, 2018.

O’Harrow, Jr. Robert and Shawn Boburg. “The man who showed Donald Trump how to exploit power and instill fear.” The Washington Post, June 17, 2016.

Unger, Craig. House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia. New York: Dutton, 2018.

Unger, Craig. “Trump’s Russian Laundromat.” The New Republic, July 13, 2017.

Vesoulis, Abby. “Trump’s Team Keeps Using Mafia-Inspired Language — to Defend Itself.” Time, August 1, 2018.

Waldman, Paul. “President Trump brings mafia ethics to the GOP.” Op-ed. The Washington Post, August 23, 2018.


Keatinge, Tom. “We cannot fight cross-border laundering with local tools.” Op-ed. Financial Times, September 9, 2018.

Unger, Craig. “Understanding Trump vs. Bruce Ohr: Think Russia’s top crime boss, Semion Mogilevich.” Just Security, August 30, 2018.