Donald Trump's Cuba Connection Update: Did Trump Violate the Cuban Trade Embargo With The Castro Regime?

Daniel Ketchum

Following a report by CBS News, Newsweek has just published a story about a Donald Trump Cuba connection that could rock his campaign with yet another damaging scandal. This Newsweek article seems to confirm that Trump knowingly and secretly engaged in business transactions with Cuba in direct violation of the United States Cuban Trade Embargo.

First released by Rachel Maddow of MSNBC, this information is derived from a story written for Newsweek by Kurt Eichenwald. The article was published in full by Newsweek on Thursday, and it included further details and evidence. According to Maddow, the information used in the Newsweek article was obtained from former Trump corporation executives, company records, and court records.

The reason for this "oversight" may have been the recognition by Trump and his executives that such a license would not have been forthcoming. One anonymous OFAC official confirmed for Newsweek that the agency would never have granted a casino operation such a license.

Instead of a license, Trump appears to have retroactively used a backdoor method of hiding the $68,000 in transactions. As seems to have become a habit with Donald Trump, he used a charity to funnel this money through a middleman so it would seem to have been simply a charitable, and therefore legal, activity.

The principal impetus behind the Trump Cuba foray was provided by European businesses that had contacted Trump about investing in Cuba. Some United States officials and senators were proposing a change in the United States policy in Cuba, and Trump apparently wanted in on the ground floor. Moreover, Trump was desperate because of the position of his company at the time.

"But almost every dollar would go to prop up the police-state. Why? Because foreign investors cannot legally do business with private Cuban citizens. They can go into business only with the Castro government. I would rather take a financial hit than become a financial backer of one of the world's most-brutal dictators."

But an even greater appearance of hypocrisy came with Trump's later flip-flops on United States policies regarding the tiny island nation. While initially enthusiastic about Barack Obama's decision to loosen restrictions on Cuba, the Associated Press reports that Trump this month threatened to reimpose sanctions in full force if Cuba refused further concessions.

If proven, Donald Trump's Cuba venture could, at least in theory, have very serious legal consequences for the Republican Party presidential nominee. Although the statute of limitations for violation of these regulations is normally five years, the law allows for an extension if a conspiracy is involved.

And what Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts allegedly did seems very much like a conspiracy. Assuming that there was sufficient evidence to try Donald Trump for such activities in Cuba in the 1990s, Trump, again in theory, could get up to 10 years in prison.

As ABC News reported Friday, the Trump campaign used a familiar tactic of blaming the media sources. This is an old song Trump sings whenever things go wrong, which is quite frequently.

In response to this, USA Today reports that the Clinton campaign pounced on the news and issued a statement about the allegations.

"Trump's business with Cuba appears to have broken the law, flouted U.S. foreign policy, and is in complete contradiction to Trump's own repeated, public statements that he had been offered opportunities to invest in Cuba but passed them up. This latest report shows once again that Trump will always put his own business interest ahead of the national interest - and has no trouble lying about it"

[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]