Shortly after taking office, Donald Trump abandoned a bizarre hotel project in Azerbaijan which never made any sense to begin with. It was built in an industrial part of town where a hotel wouldn’t be needed. The roads being built to the hotel didn’t even lead to it. And now it turns out the entire hotel project appears to have been little more than an excuse to illegally launder money coming from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku project was spearheaded by Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, who repeatedly visited the property and posted photos of herself touring it, even though as best anyone can tell the hotel was never going to open or do any business. It appears in hindsight that Ivanka had merely been doing all of this in order to create the outward appearance that the hotel was a legitimate project.
But as it turns out, the hotel deal had been struck with Ziya Mammadov, the corrupt Transportation Minister of Azerbaijan, who has a history of arranging shady real estate projects as money laundering fronts. Mammadov and his family have deep financial connections to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, making it almost certain that the Trumps were knowingly and illegally doing business with Iran. It also seems likely that Trump shuttered the project upon taking office in the hope it wouldn’t be investigated.
Based on established precedent explained this evening on the Rachael Maddow show, the legal responsibility falls on U.S. citizens to be aware of which foreigners they’re doing business with. So even if Donald and Ivanka Trump try to claim ignorance in this instance, it wouldn’t legally get them off the hook. This new revelation comes from The New Yorker today. It may explain why Senator Sherrod Brown asked the U.S. Treasury late last week to investigate the legality of Trump’s foreign financial connections.