Three years ago, now-President Donald Trump invited golf reporter and author James Dodson to see his new golf course to play a round and talk, as Dodson recounted to WBUR on Sunday.
There, Trump reportedly bragged to Dodson that he had access to $100 million to fund his renovations — which Dodson said struck him as odd, given that banks were leery of lending during the great recession. He then asked Eric Trump, his golf partner about it, as he recounted.
“As we were setting off, I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’ And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.’ Now that was three years ago, so it was pretty interesting.”
This wouldn’t have been the first time one of the Trump offspring bragged about Russian funding. At a real estate conference in 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said that the Russian money was “pouring in” to the Trump business.
“And in terms of high-end product influx into the US, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” he said.
As sources of financing for Trump business ventures go, this wouldn’t actually be that unusual: After most American banks stopped lending to him due to his history of risky investments and dealings, Trump turned to other streams of funding to build his empire, including borrowing heavily from German-owned Deutsche bank, to which he still owes millions.
Yet years later, under increased scrutiny over the role that Russian election hacking played in the 2016 election, the Trump administration and Trump himself have repeatedly denied ever having any ties to Russia at all.
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
By now, it’s not controversial to say that Russia hacked the 2016 election: Seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies have confirmed that Russia backed the DNC hacks that garnered so much airtime during the 2016 election, and that the hacks were intended to undermine American democracy and help Donald Trump’s campaign for president. And by the Trump family’s own past comments (and documented history of dealings and attempted dealings in Russia), Trump’s claim to never have had any dealings with Russia are transparently false.
Questions remain, however, over whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian actors — questions that are currently the subject of ongoing investigations in the FBI and in Congress.
On Sunday, Trump again tweeted about Russia, attempting to direct attention to Democrats and attacking the “Fake Media.”
The tweet came a day before former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates is scheduled to testify before the Senate on warnings she gave to the White House regarding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Yates was subsequently fired by Trump for not upholding his first Muslim Ban. Flynn was fired after investigations revealed he had lied to Vice President Pence about communications he had with the Russian Ambassador.
Since then, it’s been revealed that Flynn was working on behalf of the Turkish government while also advising the Trump campaign. Reporting also revealed that he failed to disclose potentially illegal payments that he received from the Russian government on his security clearance form, an omission that may have broken the law, Congressional leaders say.
The investigation into Flynn’s actions and ties to Russia are still ongoing, as is the broader investigation into the Trump campaign.