Leaked Docs: Trump’s Commerce Secretary Covered Up Ties to Putin
Trump’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is covering up something
Wilbur Ross was one of the few members of Trump’s Cabinet that appeared relatively okay. Having first gained a reputation for building up bankrupt businesses, Ross was also noteworthy in that, like Trump, he had been registered as a Democrat for a good time.
That is not to say he is perfect, but when you have an administration composed of theocratic apologists like Betsy Devos, climate change deniers like Scott Pruitt, and conspiracy nuts like Dr. Ben Carson, Ross appears more than fit to stand alongside some of the more sane figures like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense General James Mattis.
That is until today. A new story from “NBC News” has revealed that Ross’s turn to the Republican Party fits a certain pattern as he, like a growing number of people in the Trump Administration, had connections to Russia. The scandal, dubbed “Russiagate” by the media, saw a jump-start last week when Special Counsel Robert Mueller officially charged three members of the White House with colluding with the authoritarian country.
Ross’s secrets, brought to light by the hard-working geniuses of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, are similar to those of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in that he held monetary interests in Russia, particularly an offshore shipping company called Navigator Holdings that has received $68 billion for transporting gas for an energy business called Sibur. Sibur happens to be controlled by close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, including his own son-in-law.
What makes this case particularly concerning are two things: one, Ross got rid of most of his holdings in order to join the White House without conflicts of interest with the exception of Navigator Holdings, and two, Ross, in reporting to the ethics office official, did not provide extensive details on the matter, instead stating that he was taking small steps to insist that they would not infringe his work ability in anyway (something we have seen President Trump and his sons pretend to do).
This massive report’s name, the “Paradise Papers,” is more than just a nod to previous journalistic bombshells like the Pentagon Papers and the Panama Papers. It is a reference to the fact that these offshore entities provide their rich recipients a chance to live in a “paradise” where they can make as much money as they want through government services without having to pay the government back. As the ICIJ puts its:
“The promise of tax havens is secrecy – offshore locales create and oversee companies that often are difficult, or impossible, to trace back to their owners. While having an offshore entity is often legal, the built-in secrecy attracts money launderers, drug traffickers, kleptocrats and others who want to operate in the shadows.”
With Ross being a part of a large circle of Trump associates that have utilized these offshore opportunities, it is clear that the corruption present in Trump’s administration is even worse than the low standard set before these events. That Ross was relying on a large financial link with a Putin-connected business is more evidence for Mueller to incorporate into his probe.
Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit
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