Donald Trump’s pattern of surrounding himself with prominent Russians continues, and in this instance, it’s a Russian mafia godfather who is wanted on money laundering charges in Spain. The bizarre story comes by way of Spain’s leading newspaper El Pais, and it turns out Trump recently scheduled a meeting with this mafia boss in Washington D.C., only to cancel it at the last minute for fear it might look bad.
Alexander Torshin, who has been legally classified as a mafia “godfather” by Spanish authorities, and had to cancel a trip to Spain in order to avoid being arrested upon arrival, was traveling to Washington D.C. in February to attend a breakfast event. Donald Trump scheduled a private meeting with Torshin to take place just before the breakfast. But the day before the meeting, the White House pulled the plug.
What’s notable about this incident is that the most recent Trump-Russia controversies have generally centered around Trump’s advisers having held secret meetings with Russians. But this represents Donald Trump himself (almost) holding a meeting with an alleged Russian mafia boss. Trump did strangely meet with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the election, and he appears to keep secretly meeting with Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, but neither of these two Russian men are alleged criminals, and they certainly have no known ties to the Russian mafia.
So Trump’s scheduled meeting with Alexander Torshin (source: El Pais) represents a whole new ballgame, and territory he hasn’t previously been known to venture into. Why did he schedule a meeting with a Russian mafia money laundering boss after he became president? Has he met with Torshin before, and it went undetected? Was this the first time, or part of a pattern?
There is an existing scandal in which Deutsche Bank, which has floated more than a billion dollars in loans and loan guarantees to Trump (The Guardian), recently admitted that it’s been laundering billions in Russian money to clients in places like Trump’s hometown of New York City (source: CNN). Are these two storylines connected? We’ll keep digging. Contribute to Palmer Report
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report