Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald dropped a bombshell on the Trump campaign this morning:
Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.
The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami, where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowed to maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power.
Sounds legit. The Trump Foundation operates as Trump’s personal piggybank / tax evasion scheme, so why not use a charity as a cover for an embargo-busting business expense?
This latest Trump scandal could have huge implications in Florida. Even Marco Rubio, who acknowledged that Trump is a conman but endorsed him for president anyway, issued what passes for a tough statement from that quarter:
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Donald Trump will have to “answer some questions” about a Newsweek story reporting that a Trump-owned company allegedly violated the United States’ trade embargo with Cuba in the late 1990s.
“This is something they’re going to have to give a response to. I mean, it was a violation of American law, if that’s how it happened,” Rubio said on the ESPN/ABC “Capital Games” podcast.
A real profile in courage, is our Marcolito. But the vote in Florida is on a knife’s edge, thanks in part to an aging bloc of voters who reflexively vote Republican because of hostility toward the Castros. This might complicate that a bit.