As Donald Trump’s criminal efforts to tie his political opponent former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter to corruption in Ukraine have resulted in successfully launching a congressional impeachment investigation, a new article in Politico details the previously unreported history of how Trump’s own children attempted to make money in the highly corrupt business environment that was standard operating procedure at the time.
According to Politico, Donald Trump Jr. initially traveled along with his sister Ivanka to meet with government officials in Ukraine over a decade ago in 2006 for initial discussions about the development of a luxury hotel and golf resort in the country.
The eldest Trump son returned just two years later to meet with developers including Dmitry Buriak and Felix Sater, both of whom had close ties to Russia. Sater, who was convicted of a felony in conjunction with a $40 million stock fraud scheme orchestrated by the Russian mob, later also worked with the Trump Organization in their attempts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.
While the efforts to get a project off the ground in Ukraine never amounted to much at the time, Politico points out “the complications of a businessman-turned-president making foreign policy decisions in places where he has had — or tried to have — significant financial interests.”
In reaching out to congressional staffers to see what the people investigating Trump’s recent overtures to Ukraine as president knew about the Trump Organization’s history in the region, the publication noted that the activities of the president’s company in the country were largely unknown. Politico lists the sources of the new details they discovered as being “based on court documents, government emails obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch and foreign media reports, some of which were translated.’
The new revelations have renewed criticisms of the president as ultimately being more invested in advancing his and his family’s financial interests than in dedicating his efforts to working in the national interest.
“President Trump’s foreign policy decisions call into serious question whether he’s looking out for the American people or his own wallet,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA) of the House Judiciary Committee, part of the team that is conducting the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Among the details discovered by Politico:
“Trump’s company considered at least two developments in Ukraine — a hotel and golf course in Kyiv and a hotel and yacht club in the seaside city of Yalta, which is now part of the Russian-annexed area of Crimea. The Ukrainian government granted the organization the right to build properties in both cities, according to news reports. It’s unclear why neither project got off the ground.”
“Yevhen Chervonenko, then the Ukraine minister of transportation, was quoted in 2005 as saying Trump’s expected financial contribution was estimated to be $500 million. But other reports indicate the Trump Organization planned to license its name and receive royalties from any Ukraine project instead of owning the properties, a model it follows in many locations around the globe.”
In addition to detailing the shady Russian connections of the developers with whom Donald Jr. was working on the resort deal, the article gives some insight into their meetings and the projects they attempted to launch.
“Donald Jr. met with DeVision in Kyiv in June 2008 and in NYC; discussed Euro Park hotel project and golf club,” read one email from a senior Justice Department official. DeVision is Dmitry Buriak’s real estate conglomerate.
While Donald Jr.’s efforts in Ukraine got as far as identifying specific development sites — the $60 million Euro Park hotel in Kyiv and a golf club in Koncha-Zaspa in the southern part of the city, as well as the Yalta project — as Felix Sater said in a 2008 deposition:
“I remember we were In Yalta. I remember we were looking at opportunities. I remember speaking to the Trump Organization about that opportunity. I even remember the specific opportunity, and we discussed it with them. … It didn’t get to the finish line.”
While the Trump Organization deal in Ukraine was never completed— like all of the company’s many efforts in the former Soviet republics — the failure left Trump with an antipathy towards the country. He was so upset about the loss of potential business that he even unsuccessfully sued a journalist who wrote an unflattering book about him in the late 2000s, saying that his negative portrayal cost the Trump Organization the deals.
Democrats contacted by Politico found the newly revealed efforts by the president and Donald Jr. in Ukraine as highly ironic given the accusations they’ve made against the Biden family.
“Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), who serves on the House Oversight Committee, which is investigating whether Trump is illegally profiting off the presidency, called the attempt to develop a resort in Ukraine “hypocritical,” given the president’s rhetoric about the Bidens. He said the situation reminded him of Trump’s unsuccessful project in Russia,” the publication writes.
Politico‘s expose of the prior Trump family exploits in Ukraine help provide insight into why the president has been so obsessed by the country that he tried to extort for his own advantage by withholding military aid, as the recent congressional hearings have proven. As Trump tries to use Hunter Biden’s business dealings in the country as a cudgel against one of his strongest political opponents, the heavy involvement of his own son Donald Jr. in the failed Ukraine resort negotiations is nothing if not highly ironic.
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Original reporting by Anita Kumar at Politico.