That the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump has (or has had) possible ties to the mob via his many business dealings isn’t a new theory. Former rival Ted Cruz openly speculated about the Donald’s alleged business connection in February, touting the unconfirmed reports as evidence for why the New York real-estate mogul was unwilling to divulge his tax returns to the public. The accusations have since waned in the wake of Cruz’s departure from the campaign trail, but thanks to recent articles in the Washington Post and on Yahoo! News, questions about whether Trump is in with the mob are being asked again. This time, however, there’s sworn testimony and a fantastic — if not revealing — quote from the man himself.
The first report in the Post detailed the apparent relationship between Trump and Felix Sater, an American businessman born in Russia who tried to build several Trump towers in Moscow and elsewhere. According to the article published Tuesday, Sater testified in a 2008 court case that he’d bragged to potential investors he could “build a Trump Tower, because of my relationship with Trump.” He suggested they were so close that he jokingly referred to the friendship as his “Trump card,” and even claimed the former Apprentice host asked him to show Ivanka and Donald Jr. around Moscow during a Denver-bound flight they took together.
For his part, Trump has repeatedly distanced himself from Sater under oath and in interviews with the press. The favored Republican presidential candidate reiterated this in conversation with Yahoo! News, with whom he was also denying alleged ties to American Academy of Hospitality Sciences President and CEO Joseph Cinque. Otherwise know as “Joey No Socks” to former business associates like the late John Gotti, Cinque’s past had also been dredged up in recent political attacks against Trump. When asked about the relationship, Trump said he “[received] awards from different places sometimes, but [wasn’t] involved in it.”
As for Sater, Trump said he hadn’t read Tuesday’s Washington Post article. All he could recall about their partnership, or lack thereof, was that Sater “worked for a company and he would bring deals to us, but we did very few of the deals.” However, the kicker at the end provided the biggest, and perhaps the most revealing, punch. That’s because Trump seemingly acknowledged that conducting real-estate business with the mob is always an “option”:
Trump rejected the notion that he has a pattern of working with people who have mob ties, though he acknowledged that is an “option” in the real estate industry.
“I mean, I find that, I think, you have an option. But I just haven’t chosen to do it,” he said.
Again, Trump’s associations with Sater and Cinque aren’t necessarily a cause for condemnation. The first pertains to a few possible, but otherwise uneventful potential business deals, and the latter concerns an organization whose founder happened to be “a convicted felon who reportedly survived a murder attempt.” Their past convictions and current reputations aren’t directly related to Trump’s own businesses, nor to his current campaign for the Republican nomination.
That being said, that Trump would use the word “option” to describe the possibility of pursuing business with the mob or its affiliates in the real-estate industry is… odd.