Trump Tower

Peter Certo: Forget Russia, what about Trump's collusion with U.S. corporations?


I've always been a little skeptical that there’d be a smoking gun about the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia. The latest news about Donald Trump, Jr., however, is tantalizingly close.

The short version of the story, revealed by e-mails that The  New York Times obtained, is that the president’s eldest son was offered “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary” and “would be very useful to your father.”

More to the point, the younger Trump was explicitly told this was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Donald, Jr.’s reply? “I love it.”

Trump Jr. didn’t just host that meeting at Trump Tower. He also brought along campaign manager Paul Manafort and top Trump confidante (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner.

We still don’t have evidence they coordinated with Russian efforts to release Clinton campaign emails, spread “fake news,” or hack state voting systems. But at the very least, the top members of Trump’s inner circle turned up to get intelligence they knew was part of a foreign effort to meddle in the election.

Some in Washington are convinced they’ve heard enough already, with Virginia Sen, (and failed VP candidate) Tim Kaine  suggesting that  meeting might be called “treason.”

Perhaps. But it’s worth asking: Who’s done the real harm here? Some argue thatit’s not the Russians after all.

“The effects of the crime are undetectable,” the legendary social critic Noam Chomsky says of the alleged Russian meddling, “unlike the massive effects of interference by corporate power and private wealth.”

That’s worth dwelling on.

Many leading liberals suspect, now with a little more evidence, that Trump worked with Russia to win his election. But we’ve long known that huge corporations and wealthy individuals threw their weight behind the billionaire.

That gambit’s paying off far more handsomely for them — and more destructively for the rest of us — than any scheme by Putin.

The evidence is hiding in plain sight.

The top priority in Congress right now is to move a health bill that would gut Medicaid and throw at least 22 million Americans off their insurance — while loosening regulations on insurance companies and cutting taxes on the wealthiest by over $346 billion.

As few as 12 percent of Americans support that bill, but the allegiance of its supporters isn’t to voters — it’s plainly to the wealthy donors who’d get those tax cuts.

Meanwhile, majorities of Americans in every single congressional district support efforts to curb local pollution, limit carbon emissions, and transition to wind and solar. And majorities in every single state back the Paris climate agreement.

Yet even as scientists warn large parts of the planet could soon become uninhabitable, the fossil fuel-backed Trump administration has put a climate denier in charge of the EPA, pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accord, and signed legislation to let coal companies dump toxic ash in local waterways.

Meanwhile, as the administration escalates the unpopular Afghan war once again, Kushner invited billionaire military contractors — including Blackwater founder Erik Prince — to advise on policy there.

Elsewhere, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and other architects of the housing crash are advising Trump on financial deregulation, while student-debt profiteers set policy at the Department of Education.

Chomsky complains that this sort of collusion is often “not considered a crime but the normal workings of democracy.” While Trump has taken it to new heights, it’s certainly a bipartisan problem.

If Trump’s people did work with Russia to undermine our vote, they should absolutely be held accountable. But the politicians leading the charge don’t have a snowball’s chance of redeeming our democracy unless they’re willing to take on the corporate conspirators much closer to home.


Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and the editor of 


Manhattan still marvelous in season, in spite of Trump-caused neighborhood woes

From Robert Whitcomb's Dec. 8 "Digital Diary'' in

“It's time to end my holiday and bid the country a hasty farewell. 
“So on this gray and melancholy day, I'll move to a Manhattan hotel.
“I'll dispose of my rose-colored chattels and prepare for my share of adventures and battles,
“Here on the twenty-seventh floor looking down on the city I hate and adore!


“Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?

“Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first-nighting.’’


-- The opening of “Autumn in New You’’ (1934), by Vernon Duke


We were in New York the past few days. November and December are, in my view, the best time to visit New York. It’s crisp outside, people seem to walk with a hopeful spring in their step and commerce is at its most colorful. It reminds me of what New York was in the '50s, in its “Imperial New York’’ heyday before urbanpathologies (especially crime,  drugs, decaying infrastructure, “white flight to the suburbs’’ and yawning budget deficits) seemed to pose a lethal challenge to Gotham in the late ‘60s and the ‘70s. Starting around 1980, things started to get better.

You can now sense a little decline. That’s in part, I think, because Mayor Bill DiBlasio is no Mike Bloomberg. There seem to be more homeless people sleeping on sidewalks and some new graffiti but still, all in all, it’s a place of vast energy and idea creation and implementation.

Newly unhappy New Yorkers include those living and working around Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. There, the security around what continues to be the president-elect’s base of operations has hamstrung residents and the many large and small businesses there. Mr. Trump has implied that even after he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20 he will continue to do much of his government (and business deals?) work in Trump Tower. Some  local businesses may have to close as a result.

And the cost to taxpayers will be gigantic: Midtown Manhattan may well be the most complicated and by far the most expensive place in America to maintain a massive security operation. Once again, Donald Trump, who pays little or no federal income taxes, will take the taxpayers to the cleaners.


Trump movie: A fun slide down America's decline

We got so much reaction to the press release sent us by the producer of Trump: What's the Deal? that we're republishing it here. Links to the trailer and the movie are below. You can see the whole movie for free. The trailer is very funny-- and of course fast-paced. Listening to the utterly unique voice of Peter Foges, the narrator, is quite an experience.

The movie is an often hilarious and often enraging look at  crony capitalism, runaway narcissism and materialism, much of it within a time capsule of '80s kitsch.

American civic life has been heading  ever deeper into the sewer, but it's sometimes a fun ride.



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Trump: What’s the Deal? is an investigative documentary that was completed in 1991 --- but has never been seen by the national audience it was made for.  Trump took great pains to suppress the film, threatening networks, distributors, and the filmmakers.

Producer Libby Handros says: “Now that Trump is running for president, it’s time for the American people to meet the real Donald and learn how he does business. The old Trump and the new Trump? They're the same Trump.”

“While much has been written on Donald, few know how he built his business,” she explains. “This documentary, which we made at great personal cost over three years, is filled with vivid and dramatic commentary by Trump insiders and prominent outside observers, who expose how he operated as he rose to national prominence.”


Trump has claimed to be a self-made billionaire. That’s the first myth this documentary punctures. Trump used his father's money and government connections in addition to taxpayer largesse to begin his empire.

“Donald is neither self-made nor anything like a true small-government conservative,” Handros says. “His father made huge profits off Federal Housing Authority loans, and with the help of his father’s friends in government, Donald used the same techniques to build what fortune he actually has.”


“We also launched one of the first investigations into Trump’s finances to reveal that he did not have nearly as much money as he says he did—a pattern of deception and aggrandizement that continues to this day,” Handros says. “Of all the damaging things we uncovered about Trump, that’s definitely the one that upsets him the most and led to him going after our film so hard.”


  • Trump’s mob-connected contractor used illegal immigrant labor, provided with no safety equipment, to demolish the building that stood in the way of Trump’s first signature building: Trump Tower.
  • Trump hired a company that specialized in psychological attacks and blackmail to move tenants out of a building he wanted demolished.
  • Trump was a major factor in the implosion of the United States Football League, and made a failed bid to “buy” Mike Tyson.
  • Trump was in bed with the Mafia to buy the land for his first casino, Trump Plaza; he had ongoing associations with known mob figures and drug dealers in Atlantic City.
  • Trump’s compulsion, then and now, to verbally abuse his wife and other family members as well as his colleagues and employees.
  • Trump bad-mouthed three top executives of his Atlantic City casinos after their death in a company helicopter crash, blaming them for the near collapse of his empire.
  • Trump’s manipulation and lying to the press… and their complicity in making him the force he is today.
  • Trump’s long battle to move the airport farther away from his mansion in Palm Beach.

And much, much more…

The film was a production of The Deadline Company and produced by Al Levin, an award-winning documentary film producer, (now deceased) and Libby Handros. When the film’s executive producer Ned Schnurman passed away, Handros inherited the piece.

Trump: What’s the Deal? was recently called “an unforgettable investigation into the mating of commerce, corruption and celebrity in America's latest Gilded Age. It explodes the Trump mythology and his presidential campaign with it.’’

To watch the trailer:

To watch the film: