“Slickest Con Man Out of NYC”: Donald Trump Set to Be GOP Nominee Despite Links to Organized Crime — Interview with Tom Robbins


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DEMOCRACY NOW: TOM ROBBINS = The Democrats are whistling past the graveyard, that they don’t recognize the fact that American voters are scared, they’re anxious, they’re worried. Trump is telling scared Americans, “I can fix this…it shouldn’t have happened to you,” coming across as a strongman. He can beat Clinton. People feel a pride for the first woman candidate of a major party. But Hillary Clinton, at her worst, something we see a lot of, is someone who is paranoid and who is fearful and who is distrustful. So voters see her that way — A flawed candidate with a lot of baggage. And Donald Trump is somebody who is incredibly good at skewing his rivals and finding the soft spot. And she’s got a lot of soft spots.

TOM ROBBINS = Investigative journalist at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism = “Trump and the Mob,” by Tom Robbins

Trump’s close History with organized crime figures (NOW ADELSON) in the United States.

Recent article for The Marshall Project is “Trump and the Mob.”

BERNIE SANDERS = I’ve got some bad news for Clinton after we won a great victory in Indiana and Oregon and West Virginia. We’re going to another bunch of states, culminating in the largest state in the United States with a pretty good chance to win. We need to make sure that somebody like a Donald Trump does not become president and I think we are the ones to do that.

AMY GOODMAN = We’re joined by Tom Robbins, investigative journalist in residence at the CUNY Journalism School. He was recently named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his reporting on the culture of violence in New York’s prisons.

TOM ROBBINS = You have the slickest con man out of New York City, and has just been basically made the Republican nominee by the Hoosiers of Middle America. I guess it goes to show that the Republicans have just as little idea as to who their base is as the Democrats.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ = Tom, you touched on Trump’s amazing history in relationship to organized crime in America, talk about some of the characters you have unearthed, starting with the infamous Roy Cohn?

TOM ROBBINS = Roy Cohn was the sidekick and chief witch hunter for Senator Joseph McCarthy — After Roy Cohn left the Senate, he went into private practice, and he set himself up basically as the house counsel to a couple of the crime bosses in New York City—the Genovese crime family and the Gambino crime family. + He adopted a young developer from Queens looking to make his first mark as a developer in Manhattan named Donald J. Trump.

ROBBINS = Trump will tell you, to this day, that he learned how to play politics and play developer from Roy Cohn — in late ’70s to ’90s —you had to brush up against the mob to get union cooperation and get the Mob to invest and let you in as a developer. Trump ran into the MOB over and over again. They bought apartments in his Trump Tower, in Trump Plaza. You know, they kept showing up as people that he was carousing with.

ROBBINS = Trump went to Atlantic City (from old FBI memo) as Trump met with a couple FBI agents, protesting that he was concerned that in Atlantic City there might be organized crime figures, and what could he do to protect himself from this, which is a little like saying, “Is it true that there was a guy named Al Capone once who didn’t pay his taxes?” And he did go to Atlantic City and virtually had to get into bed with half a dozen mobsters who he bought land from down there.

AMY GOODMAN = Memo quote, “TRUMP advised Agents that he had read in the press media and had heard from various acquaintances that Organized Crime elements were known to operate in Atlantic City. TRUMP also expressed at this meeting, the reservation that his life and those around him would be subject to microscopic examination. TRUMP advised that he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City but he did not wish to tarnish his family’s name.”

ROBBINS = It’s one of the most remarkable statements coming from a man who has invited the most microscopic examination not only of his life, but his children’s life, all of his wives’ lives. Tarnish his name? You know, this is a man who has emblazoned his name all over every building that he can find, and without any compunctions as to who he associated with. And it didn’t just stop in Atlantic City. Right up until recently, this latest Trump hotel in New York—at least it has his name on it, even though he’s not the owner—the Trump SoHo down on Spring Street, as The New York Times revealed a few weeks ago, his partners in that were a bunch of Russian mobsters. = Trump said same think as he said about the mobsters in Atlantic City = “He wouldn’t know them if he met them.”

ROBBINS = Dan Sullivan + Polish immigrant workers that Trump employed. A crusty, old, rank-and-file member of the house records union sued Trump for knocking down a building for Trump Tower high-rise condo palace. The knocked down building was a former famous New York City department store called Bonwit Teller. Trump did it so fast using a contractor that was using all undocumented workers from Poland, hardly paying them at all — So little money they were literally sleeping on the job site. Trump paid nothing to the union benefit fund so this rank-and-file member filed a lawsuit against Trump for cheated his union out of benefits forcing Trump to settle the law suit. But Trump throughout the debates said, “I never settle lawsuits.”

ROBBINS = 1988 Trump at the peak of his days in Atlantic City, teamed up with a guy named John Staluppi, who was a very successful and wealthy auto dealer out of Long Island, to create a new stretch limousine, kind of a Trumpmobile. Staluppi, a member of the Colombo crime family, Trump when asked about it, he said, “Well, I never knew anything about that. In fact, I didn’t know John Staluppi very well at all.”

ROBBINS = Media is terrible and never cover these stories and never asked the hard questions and he gets away with simply saying things like, “Well, I never heard of that guy,” or, “I wouldn’t know him.” Trump is a gold mine of these kinds of stories of deal maker in New York and across the world for 40 years with some incredibly shady characters.

ROBBINS = NO TAX RETURNS EVER FROM TRUMP = Trump is running for president in a very different way, and that’s one of the ways it’s going to be different.

AMY GOODMAN = Trump lies for example, the Iraq War he says he opposes and he opposes so-called free trade deals. In fact Trump was for the Iraq war in 2002.

ROBBINS = In Republican debates Trump kept saying, “I was the guy who said I was against the Iraq War,” and nobody challenged him. Trump has an ability to just slide through this stuff — astonishing.

ROBINS = My favorite one was about Trump and the draft. Trump says they didn’t need me. A biographer went back and checked, and he said, “Well, actually, you know, your date was before they were even using the lottery. How did you get out of the draft?” At which point Donald Trump says, “Heel spurs. I got a 4-F because of my heel spurs.” = BUT Trump walked hundreds of miles on a golf courses.

ROBBINS = You know Bernie has shown an ability to resonate with that portion of the voters outside the Democratic Party insiders and that is why he keeps winning.

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