The election results were hotly contested. While Russian officials congratulated the victor (link), the election was decried as a complete fraud by the majority of the country. There were protests. There were riots. US Congressmen spoke frankly of their concerns, evoking the Kremlin (link). They had good reason to do so (link). While ostensibly pro-American, the winner and his family had close ties (link) with Russia. It was obvious.
The leader and his family had visited Moscow (link) numerous times, courting the Russians. The feeling was mutual. Paul Manafort, later impugned for his own Russian connections, played a decisive role (link) in managing the campaign. Just prior to the election, Russian diplomat Sergei Kislyak had been spotted (link) near Trump Tower! Widely rebuked as illegitimate, the much maligned leader and his family found solace in great wealth. The family had amassed a considerable real-estate portfolio consisting of a number of buildings in New York (link). The crown of their investments (link), a high-rise building in Manhattan, was a landmark on Fifth Avenue.
The family was often accused of money laundering (link). There were charges of racketeering (link), which were eventually dismissed. It wasn’t unusual for the leader to do business with shadowy characters, such as Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi (link) (His luxury yacht (link) was used in the Bond film “Never Say Never Again”). Try as they may, the spectre of Russian influence hung over the family with all the subtlety of a faux Louis XIV ceiling mural (link). One of the family members used their first name to market a line (link) of fashion jewelry and accessories (Hint: Her name was trisyllabic and began with the letter “I”). Although the leader was quite frail, he projected a brutal, strong-man persona (link). A wall was built (link) to keep out the less fortunate. His slogan was simple, direct, and irreproachable. He wanted to make the country great again (link).
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