How Donald Trump became Deutsche Bank’s biggest headache

 Since Trump’s election, Deutsche has fielded numerous calls from the media on a possible financial trail to Moscow. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images


Since Trump’s election, Deutsche has fielded numerous calls from the media on a possible financial trail to Moscow. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images

Donald Trump has become a big headache for Deutsche Bank. Here’s how.

The language was scathing, the tone sarcastic. “[Donald] Trump proclaims himself the archetypal businessman, a deal-maker without peer,” the memo said.

It mentioned Trump’s boast that he was worth “billions of dollars”. And it listed his interests in “numerous extraordinary properties” across the world, from New York to Panama, not to mention his latest golf course in Scotland.

Another document noted: “Trump is no stranger to overdue debt.”

The angry memos were written by lawyers acting on behalf of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s biggest lender, which was suing the billionaire.

It was November 2008. Three-and-a-half years earlier the bank had loaned Trump the cash to build one of his grandest projects yet: a hotel and mega-tower in Chicago.

Trump had given his personal guarantee he would repay the $640m. As per agreement, he was now due to hand over a large chunk, $40m.

There was only one problem: the future 45th president of the United States was refusing to pay up. Deutsche initiated legal action. Trump responded with a blistering, scarcely credible writ of his own, a 10-count complaint in New York’s supreme court, in the county of Queens.

In it, Trump adopted a highly unusual defence, known as “force majeure”. He claimed that the 2008 economic crisis was a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami”, an act of God that was equivalent to an earthquake.

Since it couldn’t have been anticipated, and it wasn’t his fault, he wasn’t obliged to pay Deutsche anything. It wouldn’t get the $40m or the outstanding $330m, his writ said.

He went further. Trump claimed Deutsche Bank had actually helped cause the crunch. Therefore it owed him. Trump demanded $3bn from Deutsche in compensation.

Its New York property division first loaned money to him in 1998 at a time when the bank was attempting to expand its commercial real estate portfolio. By that stage, other major banks were becoming cautious about Trump, in part, the Wall Street Journal has said, because of frustration with his business practices.

A decade later, Deutsche was to find out for itself quite how capricious and unpredictable he could be.

Then came Trump’s Scottish golf course venture.

It was what happened next that strikes many in the banking world as unusual – bizarre, even. In 2005 Trump had borrowed money from Deutsche’s commercial real estate division. In 2010 the parties settled their legal differences.

But rather than walking away, the bank’s private wealth division then resumed lending to Trump, the troublesome four-times bankrupt client who had defaulted on a major loan.

Why? It’s unclear what assurances Trump offered. He had given his word before, only to break it.

Deutsche has refused to discuss its lending arrangements to the first family. Its clients also include Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband, Jared Kushner, and Kushner’s mother, Seryl Stadtmauer.

Kushner is a senior White House adviser. Just before the US election Deutsche refinanced $370m he owes against commercial property in Manhattan belonging to Kushner’s company.

Sources inside Deutsche say the investment banking side of the business is entirely separate from the private bank that handles the Trumps. Personal relationships also play an important role in private banking.

Even so, banking experts have told the Guardian it is unusual for a private bank to take on such loans, and unbelievable that a bank would continue to deal with a man who had refused to pay his debt, and then countersued using force majeure.

One former Deutsche employee, based in New York, said: “Real estate refused to deal with him [Trump]. Only the private bank is willing to accept personal guarantees.”

Joe Crowley, chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said: “President Trump’s web of global financial entanglements are of serious concern. When a foreign-owned bank that is under investigation by the Department of Justice holds hundreds of millions in personally-guaranteed debt for the president, that is problematic for ethical, diplomatic, and judicial reasons. This is why we must know more about all of Donald Trump’s business ties.”

Crowley also said he wanted the president to release his elusive tax returns.

Deutsche has not explained why it continued to bankroll Trump and his real estate deals. Even before the 2008 legal dispute, Trump’s chequered business record was infamous. Other financial houses in New York refused to give him credit, following a string of failed ventures including an airline and a casino empire in Atlantic City.

Bloomberg reported that Deutsche was now trying to restructure Trump’s $300m debt, which is guaranteed by four of his properties. The difficulty is obvious: conflict of interest. The president owes the bank money. At the same time the Trump administration and its Department of Justice is investigating Deutsche over its Russian money laundering scheme.

According to an analysis by Bloomberg, Trump now owes Deutsche around $300m. He has four large mortgages, all issued by Deutsche’s private bank. The loans are guaranteed against the president’s properties: a new deluxe hotel in Washington DC’s old Post Office building, just round the corner from the White House; his Chicago tower hotel; and the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

Trump and his businesses have a long history with the German bank, which this month posted its latest net loss, of €1.4bn. It has been the only financial institution willing to lend Trump significant sums. In the 1990s other Wall Street banks, which had previously extended him credit, turned off the tap after Trump’s businesses declared bankruptcy four times.

Trump remains the bank’s most high-profile client. He is also, increasingly, its biggest PR headache.

Read more on The Guardian newspaper here and here.

 

Trump to tighten grip on Intelligence agencies following ‘leaks’.

 Stephen A. Feinberg, right, a founder of Cerberus Capital Management, at the Capitol in December 2008. He is said to be in talks for a White House role examining the country’s intelligence agencies. Credit Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times


Stephen A. Feinberg, right, a founder of Cerberus Capital Management, at the Capitol in December 2008. He is said to be in talks for a White House role examining the country’s intelligence agencies. Credit Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times

President Trump plans to assign a New York billionaire to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies, according to administration officials, an effort that members of the intelligence community fear could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.

The possible role for Stephen A. Feinberg, a co-founder of Cerberus Capital Management, has met fierce resistance among intelligence officials already on edge because of the criticism the intelligence community has received from Mr. Trump during the campaign and since he became president. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump blamed leaks from the intelligence community for the departure of Michael T. Flynn, his national security adviser, whose resignation he requested.

There has been no announcement of Mr. Feinberg’s job, which would be based in the White House, but he recently told his company’s shareholders that he is in discussions to join the Trump administration. He is a member of Mr. Trump’s economic advisory council.

Mr. Feinberg, who has close ties to Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, declined to comment on his possible position. The White House, which is still working out the details of the intelligence review, also would not comment.

Mr. Bannon and Mr. Kushner, according to current and former intelligence officials and Republican lawmakers, had at one point considered Mr. Feinberg for either director of national intelligence or chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine service, a role that is normally reserved for career intelligence officers, not friends of the president. Mr. Feinberg’s only experience with national security matters is his firm’s stakes in a private security company and two gun makers.

On an array of issues — including the Iran nuclear deal, the utility of NATO, and how best to combat Islamist militancy — much of the information and analysis produced by American intelligence agencies contradicts the policy positions of the new administration. The divide is starkest when it comes to Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin, whom Mr. Trump has repeatedly praised while dismissing American intelligence assessments that Moscow sought to promote his own candidacy.

The last time an outsider with no intelligence experience took the job was in the early days of the Reagan administration, when Max Hugel, a businessman who had worked on Mr. Reagan’s campaign, was named to run the spy service. His tenure at the C.I.A. was marked by turmoil and questions about the politicization of the agency. He was forced to resign after six months, amid accusations about his past business dealings. (He later won a libel case against the two brothers who made the accusations.)

Even the prospect that Mr. Feinberg may lead a review for the White House has raised concerns in the intelligence community.

Against this backdrop, Mr. Trump has appointed Mike Pompeo, a former Republican congressman from Kansas, to run the C.I.A., and former Senator Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, to be the director of national intelligence (he is still awaiting confirmation). Both were the preferred choices of the Republican congressional leadership and Vice President Mike Pence and had no close or longstanding ties to Mr. Trump. In fact, they each endorsed Senator Marco Rubio of Florida for president during the 2016 Republican primaries.

Mr. Coats is especially angry at what he sees as a move by Mr. Bannon and Mr. Kushner to sideline him before he is even confirmed, according to current and former officials. He believes the review would impinge on a central part of his role as the director of national intelligence and fears that if Mr. Feinberg were working at the White House, he could quickly become a dominant voice on intelligence matters.

Read more at the New York Times and The Guardian.

Bookies bet Trump impeached or leaves office in first term.

presidecyfordummies

There’s already talk of impeachment, just three weeks into Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency. In fact, many are already betting on it.

Gambling houses all over the world are taking in action on whether Trump, inaugurated just last month, will resign or be impeached. And the odds aren’t as long as you might think.

Immediately after his election win in November, the odds of Trump staying in the Oval Office for four years were 3/1, indicating a 25% chance he’d leave early. Now a little more than three weeks into his tenure, the odds have been slashed to 11/10, putting a 47% chance that he’ll resign or be impeached

Ladbrokes, the British oddsmaking giant, has Trump’s chances of leaving office via resignation or impeachment and removal at just 11-to-10, or just a little worse than even money. The odds of Trump being impeached this year in the House of Representatives are only 4-to-1, according to the Irish bookmaker Paddy Power, despite GOP control of the chamber. You can win $180 on a $100 bet with Bovada, the online gaming site, that Trump won’t make it through a full term — though the bet is off if Trump passes away during the next four years. At William Hill WMH, -2.83%  odds point to a 2/1 chance of an impeachment in Trump’s first term.

All in all, Trump has meant big business for the international gambling industry. There’s always been betting on politics — mostly as a novelty around election season — but professional bookies say Trump’s unlikely victory and tumultuous transition mean that gamblers are jonesing to wager on his presidency.

“From a betting perspective, Donald Trump’s presidency has triggered a massive boom for these kinds of markets,” said Alex Donohue, the PR manager of Ladbrokes. “With Donald Trump, everything he does, it can be turn into speculation, and that can be turned into gambling.”

Any actual movement on impeachment wouldn’t come until Americans have turned on Trump en masse. And while Trump is the least-popular newly-elected president in modern history, he retains a core of support that has yet to abandon him. Trump’s approval rating is 45 percent, according to the most recent HuffPost Pollster average — slightly lower than his 50-percent disapproval rating. At the same point in his own presidency, Barack Obama’s approval rating was 63 percent, with 23 percent disapproving of his performance.

But that isn’t stopping bettors all over the world from wagering on the possibility. Ladbrokes says it has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in bets on the future of Trump’s presidency — down from the “millions and millions” bet on the election, but far more than usual at the start of a new administration.

Lewis Davey, a spokesman at Paddy Power, called the early days of Trump’s presidency a “roller-coaster,” and noted the widespread public interest in betting on its future.

“With such little political experience and a rocky start in the White House, it’s understandable people have their doubts on Trump,” Davey said. “We’re currently offering 4-to-1 for Trump to be impeached in the first six months.”

Read more at Politico.eu and MarketWatch.

Print your ebooks for free

One of the complaints I hear about ebooks is you can’t print them, but that is not true. Perhaps you bought an ePub ebook which has some pictures you’d love to print out, or maybe some recipes you’d like to print and keep.

If your ebook is in ePub format you can easily print out your ebook with Adobe Digital Editions.

Download Adobe Digital Editions from this link.

 

Trump campaign’s frequent talks with Russian intelligence

 President Trump spoke with Vladimir V. Putin on Jan. 28. His national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, right, resigned Monday. Credit Jonathan Ernst/Reuters


President Trump spoke with Vladimir V. Putin on Jan. 28. His national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, right, resigned Monday. Credit Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.

A report from American intelligence agencies that was made public in January concluded that the Russian government had intervened in the election in part to help Mr. Trump, but did not address whether any members of the Trump campaign had participated in the effort.

The intercepted calls are different from the wiretapped conversations last year between Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and Sergey I. Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. In those calls, which led to Mr. Flynn’s resignation on Monday night, the two men discussed sanctions that the Obama administration imposed on Russia in December.

But the cases are part of American intelligence and law enforcement agencies’ routine electronic surveillance of the communications of foreign officials.

The F.B.I. declined to comment. The White House also declined to comment Tuesday night, but earlier in the day, the press secretary, Sean Spicer, stood by Mr. Trump’s previous comments that nobody from his campaign had contact with Russian officials before the election.

No pre-election contacts between the Trump team and Russian officials, says Sean Spicer

Two days after the election in November, Sergei A. Ryabkov, the deputy Russian foreign minister, said “there were contacts” during the campaign between Russian officials and Mr. Trump’s team.

“Obviously, we know most of the people from his entourage,” Mr. Ryabkov told Russia’s Interfax news agency.

The Trump transition team denied Mr. Ryabkov’s statement. “This is not accurate,” Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump, said at the time.

The National Security Agency, which monitors the communications of foreign intelligence services, initially captured the calls between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russians as part of routine foreign surveillance. After that, the F.B.I. asked the N.S.A. to collect as much information as possible about the Russian operatives on the phone calls, and to search through troves of previous intercepted communications that had not been analyzed.

The only Trump associate named in the New York Times report as having participated in the contacts was Paul Manafort, who was the Trump campaign manager for several months last summer. He had previously worked as an adviser to the former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, who was backed by Moscow, and pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs.

Manafort has repeatedly denied any contacts with Russian officials. He told the New York Times on Tuesday: “I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.”

“It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer,’” he added.

Read more about the Trump team/Russia connections on the New York Times and on The Guardian newspapers.

 

Trump’s dinner party a bust

 Donald Trump will be attending his first White House correspondents’ dinner as president. ‘There will be minimal celebrities in that room,’ said one media executive. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images


Donald Trump will be attending his first White House correspondents’ dinner as president. ‘There will be minimal celebrities in that room,’ said one media executive. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The White House correspondents’ dinner is a fixture of the Washington scene, a spring event at which the cream of political journalism shares bonhomie, fine food and comedy roasting with the politicians it reports on – including the president. Under Donald Trump, however, the dinner is facing uncertainty.

Trump, who has repeatedly attacked “the very dishonest press” and accused leading news outlets of peddling “fake news” about him, is expected nonetheless to attend the dinner, at the Washington Hilton on 29 April.

Many news outlets, however, are planning to give the event a miss. The New York Times has not sent journalists to the dinner since 2008. The Guardian, which normally attends, will not be represented there this year. Jeff Mason, a Reuters journalist and president of the WHCA, has been obliged to confirm that the event will happen.

Celebrities are also choosing to spend the night elsewhere. Actors from the casts of TV political drama shows such as House of Cards, Veep and Scandal, for example, have attended in recent years. They are not expected to be present this time. And according to the Hollywood Reporter, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) has yet to secure a comedy headliner.

One comedian, Samantha Bee, will be dining on Washington on the night of 29 April. The Full Frontal host will be debuting what she declines to call a rival party, even though it is titled Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and is being held on the same night at the historic Willard Hotel, a block away from the White House.

Over the years, the dinner has spawned a number of receptions and after-parties. Some of those are now being cancelled or losing co-hosts. Vanity Fair, for example, has pulled out of co-hosting a prestigious after-party, leaving Bloomberg to go it alone. The New Yorker has cancelled its curtain-raiser. It is reportedly unclear if MSNBC will hold its own traditional after-party, while ABC and Yahoo, which have previously co-hosted a pre-dinner reception, have not confirmed if they will do so this year.

Whoever is eventually named as master of ceremonies for the dinner will have a chance to tease, needle or even roast the president, as Stephen Colbert famously did to a not-very amused George W Bush in 2006. And Trump will get a chance to reply in kind.

He may see a chance for revenge. Famously, in 2011 Barack Obama and TV host Seth Meyers roasted a stone-faced Trump, a guest at the dinner who was also a key champion of the widely debunked “birther” movement, which claimed Obama was not born in the US and thus ineligible to be president.

His audience may lack familiar faces. In the past, stars such as Scarlett Johansson, Kerry Washington and the cast of Game of Thrones have been guests at the sprawling, ticketed dinner in the Hilton ballroom, which seats 2,670. This year, an unnamed Washington media executive was quoted as saying: “There will be minimal celebrities in that room … it’s going to be difficult to get any talent there.”

Read the complete article on The Guardian web site here.

Trump fired Flynn, but he’s the wrong guy

The US national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late Monday amid a flow of intelligence leaks that he had secretly discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador to Washington and then tried to cover up the conversations.

The resignation, with the Trump era less than four weeks old, is the latest and most dramatic convulsion in the most chaotic start to an administration in modern US history.

But Trump fired, oh excuse me, asked Flynn to resign, because Flynn discussed something of a highly sensitive nature in secret then tried to cover it up.

One thing you can say about Donald Trump is he doesn’t discuss anything of a highly sensitive nature in secret, and believe me, he never tries to cover things up. Believe me.

It was not clear what security arrangements, if any, have been made at Mar-a-Lago to allow for classified meetings and communications. Any such protocols would not have applied to the terrace, which was full of members, who pay a $200,000 initiation fee (double what it was before Trump became president), according to CNBC.

At the other end of the scale, the club was hiring foreign workers this winter as cooks, waiters, waitresses and housekeepers, at between $10.17 and $12.74 an hour, according to the Palm Beach Post. There is no mention of vetting. According to the CNN account, the staff “cleared the wedge salads and brought along the main course as Trump and Abe continued consulting with aides”.

national-security-problem

Good old Donald just sits around in public discussing highly sensitive national security documents while anyone within earshot is listening in or recording the idiotic event on their cellphone.

national-security-problem2

Speaking of cellphones, good old Donny boy used his own cellphone and not a secure cellphone to discuss national security matters. Duh!! What a dolt. What an embarrassment.

Under the Trump presidency, however, operational security has taken a backseat. He has held on to his insecure Android phone, from which he tweeted when he was about to sit down with Abe.

At all times during their huddle over the missile launch, the two leaders were surrounded by aides and guests brandishing their own mobile phones, each one of which, it has been known since Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance, can be used as an unwitting conduit for electronic eavesdropping by the world’s intelligence agencies.

Donny boy, you fired the wrong guy. Only a honest-to-goodness doofus like Donald Trump would discuss national security issues in public. I’m afraid old Donny boy, the oldest person ever elected president, has entered his senility stage and should be put to pasture like old dogs usually are.