Report: Russian bank whose CEO met secretly with Jared Kushner helped finance Trump’s Toronto hotel

A Russian state-owned bank under US sanctions, whose CEO met with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law in December, helped financed the construction of the president’s 65-story Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto, according to a new report.

.. Mr. Shnaider injected more money into the Trump Toronto project, which was financially troubled. Mr. Shnaider’s lawyer, Symon Zucker, said in an April interview that about $15 million from the asset sale went into the Trump Toronto project.

.. The Trump Organization has distanced itself from the Toronto project, which faced financial difficulties last year. The organization “merely licensed its brand and manages the hotel and residences,” it told The Journal in a statement.

.. The project was initially a joint venture between Trump and Shnaider

.. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and a top White House adviser, met with the Vnesheconombank CEO Sergey Gorkov in December, The New York Times reported in late March.

.. At the time, Kushner was trying to find investors for an office building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

.. the meeting was reportedly orchestrated by Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, who also met with Kushner in December

Journalist: Trump Seems ‘Willfully Blind’ To Putin’s Real Goals

And with Trump and Putin, there is this very strange way in which Trump constantly forgives Putin for his bad actions. He dismisses accusations against Putin. He says – he finds alternate explanations. Just to give you a couple quick examples, we have all followed the story of the Russian hacking during this election. And Trump has been very reluctant to admit that this actually happened. You know, and he said, you never know. It could be a 400-pound guy sitting on his mother’s bed.

But it goes back much farther. You know, when Trump was asked about whether Putin has political opponents and journalists killed, Trump said, well, you don’t know that. People say that he does it. But I don’t know if it’s true. When the passenger jet MH17 was shot down over Ukraine a couple of years ago, and international investigation concluded, this was supported by all kinds of Western intelligence agencies – that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists using a missile supplied by Moscow. Trump was asked about that. And he said, well, people say that. But you don’t know.

And there’s other theories out there. Even the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian who drank polonium from a tea cup in London and died after that – he was a big Putin critic. Trump has been asked about that – same thing. We don’t know. We don’t know. He seems almost, you know, willfully blind to this pattern of Putin’s actions in a way that doesn’t add up. It makes you think that there’s something going on that we don’t completely understand. And that’s really frustrating and, I think, for a lot of people, very troubling.

Five Reasons the Comey Affair Is Worse Than Watergate

A journalist who covered Nixon’s fall 45 years ago explains why the current challenge to America may be more severe—and the democratic system less capable of handling it.

the worst version of what Nixon and his allies were attempting to do—namely, to find incriminating or embarrassing information about political adversaries ranging from Democratic Party Chairman Lawrence O’Brien to Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg—was not as bad as what came afterward.

.. attacks by an authoritarian foreign government on the fundamentals of American democracy, by interfering with an election

.. as part of a larger strategy that included parallel interference in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and elsewhere.

.. meant to destroy trust in democracy

.. But even in his stonewalling, Nixon paid lip service to the concepts of due process and check and balances.

.. Stennis compromise

.. he wanted to act as if he was doing so while sticking to some recognizable rules.

 .. Nothing Donald Trump has done, on the campaign trail or in office, has expressed awareness of, or respect for, established rules.

How did Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a protege of Reagan, become ‘Putin’s favorite congressman’?

“I think, since that moment, I have realized that I was fighting communism all that time, but I wasn’t fighting Russians,” Rohrabacher said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office.

The Soviet Union would soon break apart, and Rohrabacher grew to respect his onetime enemies and champion their attempt at democracy. Two decades ago, he got to know Vladimir Putin while drunkenly arm-wrestling the then-deputy-mayor of St. Petersburg over who actually won the Cold War. (Putin won the matchup, and quickly, Rohrabacher notes.)

.. After playing a role in the Soviet Union’s collapse, Rohrabacher decided his job in Congress was to ease the way for Russia to embrace democracy. He has spent the nearly three decades since meeting with Russian politicians, carrying Russian-related legislation and advocating for the country and against U.S. sanctions, moves that earned him the favorite congressman nickname from Politico.
.. He sees a kindred spirit in Trump, who since the early days of his campaign has said he wants to have a friendly relationship with Putin, and believes Russia could be a strategic ally for fighting Islamic State. Rohrabacher was even briefly floated as a candidate for secretary of State.
.. During a committee hearing just last week, Rohrabacher dismissed concerns about Russian aggression from the former president of Estonia, and compared Putin to the late Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.Daley “beat demonstrators up and did not represent anything what America was all about, but he was not some vicious dictator,” Rohrabacher said.