It's Not A $50M Bribe To Putin ... It's A GIFT!
Holy Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Batman! Are these people out of their goddamn minds?
YES. THE ANSWER IS YES. Take it away, Buzzfeed.
President Donald Trump's company planned to give a $50 million penthouse at Trump Tower Moscow to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the company negotiated the luxury real estate development during the 2016 campaign, according to four people, one of them the originator of the plan.
Two US law enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News that Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer at the time, discussed the idea with a representative of Dmitry Peskov, Putin's press secretary.
So, Michael Cohen offered a $50 million gift to the guy Christopher Steele said was running the pro-Trump Kremlin operation? AYFKMRN?
Not to blow your mind with a lot of technical legal argot, but that's what people in the business might call a GIANTASS BRIBE. And offering it on what was undoubtedly a recorded phone line gave the Kremlin potentially explosive kompromat on the future Idiot President.
"IT IS ALWAYS NICE TO SEE YOU," SAID THE SPIDER TO THE FLY.
Here's an excerpt from the DOJ and SEC's Resource Guide to the FCPA, published in the olden days when our government still functioned. Fun fact: You don't actually have to hand the money over to violate the FCPA, anything moving beyond the planning stage -- like, say explicitly offering someone a $50 million penthouse -- is enough.
Where corrupt intent is present, the FCPA prohibits paying, offering, or promising to pay money or anything of value (or authorizing the payment or offer). By focusing on intent, the FCPA does not require that a corrupt act succeed in its purpose. Nor must the foreign official actually solicit, accept, or receive the corrupt payment for the bribe payor to be liable. For example, in one case, a specialty chemical company promised Iraqi government officials approximately $850,000 in bribes for an upcoming contract. Although the company did not, in the end, make the payment (the scheme was thwarted by the U.S. government's investigation), the company still violated the FCPA and was held accountable.
Gosh, what could those Trump chuckleheads possibly have intended by giving Vladimir Putin a $50 million apartment? Luckily, Buzzfeed got Felix Sater, Michael Cohen's partner in derp, to lay it all out.
The two men worked furiously behind the scenes into the summer of 2016 to get the Moscow deal finished — despite public claims that the development was canned in January, before Trump won the Republican nomination. Sater told BuzzFeed News today that he and Cohen thought giving the Trump Tower's most luxurious apartment, a $50 million penthouse, to Putin would entice other wealthy buyers to purchase their own. "In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin," Sater told BuzzFeed News. "My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin." A second source confirmed the plan.
So the future president was on the stump swearing up and down that he had nothing to do with Russia or Putin, while his minions were out there planning to give the guy a $50 million bribe so they could goose the price of their units and ensure that their building got permitted and financed?
No, we're not fainting at the sheer nerve and greed; after three years, we've become immune to that. It's the stupidity! They're in the international spotlight, they've got reporters crawling all over them, and they're contemplating an eight-figure bribe to the leader of a hostile power?
WHAT. THE. FUCK. And also, hey look at this excerpt from the Steele Dossier.
Let's revive ourselves by gaming this out in light of Michael Cohen's plea deal yesterday, shall we?
Remember that Cohen told multiple lies to Congress about the negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. He said it was over in early 2016; he said he'd barely discussed the deal with the Trump family; he said that he never agreed to travel to Moscow and that he never tried to arrange a trip for Trump; he said that he'd never discussed the proposed project with any Russian government officials. None a single one of those things was true -- the plan was live through June, he briefed Trump and the family extensively, he agreed to travel to Russia, he was planning for Trump to make the trip later, and he offered Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov a $50 million gift right before Wikileaks started dropping stolen Clinton and DNC emails.
Maybe Michael Cohen was really in Prague like McClatchy said. Or maybe it was actually Sater?
Or perhaps this part of the Steele Dossier is actually wrong -- although we just reread it and Good Lord, it's spooky how dead on that guy was! Maybe the sudden death of the Moscow Trump Tower deal did have something to do with Don Jr.'s Trump Tower meeting with all the Russians that month in New York. But it seems a whole lot more likely that a competent lawyer (NOT Michael Cohen) took one look at the offer to Putin and said HOLY SHIT WE'RE ALL GOING TO JAIL IF WE DO THIS YOU BLITHERING IDIOTS.
FCPA Resource Guide, what say you?
For each violation of the anti-bribery provisions, the FCPA provides that corporations and other business entities are subject to a fine of up to $2 million. Individuals, including officers, directors, stockholders, and agents of companies, are subject to a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to five years.
For each violation of the accounting provisions, the FCPA provides that corporations and other business entities are subject to a fine of up to $25 million. Individuals are subject to a fine of up to $5 million and imprisonment for up to 20 years.
Under the Alternative Fines Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3571(d), courts may impose significantly higher fines than those provided by the FCPA—up to twice the benefit that the defendant obtained by making the corrupt payment, as long as the facts supporting the increased fines are included in the indictment and either proved to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt or admitted in a guilty plea proceeding.
So if the plan was to net an extra $200 million ($250 million, less the $50 million gift to Uncle Vlad), a fine of "up to twice the benefit that the defendant obtained" would be $400 million. Which is a big chunk of change, even if you are a (cough, cough) billionaire. That would be a hell of an incentive to lie to Congress, huh?
Hey, Don Jr., remember that time you told Congress that you hardly knew anything about the project to build a what do you call it, oh a tower, how nice in Moscow?
It would be ever so shocking if Don Jr. and Ivanka had left digital fingerprints all over this failed bribery scheme. Oh, we would faint like Betty White on a floral sofa. We're keeping those smelling salts handy, because Adam Schiff just announced that the House Intelligence Committee would be looking into the reported "gift" to Putin. And Uncle Bobby is already on the case, as Yahoo reports,
But Cohen wasn't the only person at the Trump Organization who was pursuing deals to build a skyscraper in the Russian capital. Multiple sources have confirmed to Yahoo News that the president's elder daughter, Ivanka, who is now a top White House adviser, and his eldest son, Don Jr., were also working to make Trump Tower Moscow a reality. The sources said those efforts were independent of Cohen's work on the project. One of the sources said Ivanka was also involved in Cohen's efforts. And a separate source familiar with the investigation told Yahoo News that Mueller has asked questions about Ivanka and Don Jr.'s work on Trump Tower Moscow.
Now stop that fantasizing that Mueller will do LOCK THEM UPS to the entire Trump clan! Schadenfreude is very un-Christian. Let's be serious and examine this DOJ tweet from 11:04am yesterday.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.