Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy made a secret deal with Donald Trump, in "months" of negotiations, that resulted in Trump selecting Appeals Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy — a decision that allowed Kennedy to feel "comfortable" about announcing his retirement, according to a report by NBC News correspondent Geoff Bennett on Tuesday. The secret negotiations were highly unusual for a retiring Supreme Court justice, but according to some reports, there may have been even more to the backroom deal.
In fact, according to those reports — such as an account by independent online journalist Seth Abramson — the secret talks between "the Trump team" and Kennedy may have involved Trump's connections to Russia.
The connection comes through the large German financial institution Deutsche Bank, where, as the Inquisitr has earlier reported, Kennedy's son Justin was employed and served as "one of Trump's most trusted associates over a 12-year spell," from 1997 to 2009.
During that time, Trump secured about $1 billion in loans from the German bank, according to the New York Times, at a time when no other banks would extend any credit at all to Trump due to his repeated business bankruptcies.
But shortly after the younger Kennedy left his job at Deutsche Bank, according to federal investigators cited by Reuters, the bank became part of a massive scheme to launder about $10 billion dollars in Russian cash. The scheme started in 2011, according to the Reuters report, and in 2017 resulted in the U.S. government slamming the bank with $630 million in fines, according to a CNN report.
Trump himself has long been suspected of connections to Russian money laundering through his many real estate deals, according to an investigation by New Yorker Magazine reporter Adam Davidson, who reported that Russia investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been looking closely at Trump's history of real estate deals involving Russians.
Trump's alleged Russian money laundering connections may go back as far as 1984, the year after he opened his signature Trump Tower skyscraper in Manhattan, according to a report by the New Republic. That's when a Russian mobster named David Bogatin paid $6 million — about $14.5 million in 2018 cash — for five separate condos in the then-glamorous building.
"If the transaction seemed suspicious—multiple apartments for a single buyer who appeared to have no legitimate way to put his hands on that much money—there may have been a reason," wrote TNR reporter Craig Unger. "At the time, Russian mobsters were beginning to invest in high-end real estate, which offered an ideal vehicle to launder money from their criminal enterprises."
According to Abramson, while Kennedy himself may have known nothing about Russian money laundering activity in Trump's businesses, the fact that Trump and Kennedy had a connection through Kennedy's son — who worked for a bank that later became part of a Russian money laundering operation and itself loaned Trump a billion dollars when no one else would lend him a dime — could have shined a light on Trump's Russian connections, if it became known.
"Any reference made—by Kennedy or Trump—to the fact they knew each other ran the risk of raising the [Deutsche Bank] connection at a time Trump was hiding his tax returns (through the fraudulent claim an audit precluded releasing them) and the DB-Russia scandal was political cyanide," Abramson wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday.
The fact-checking site PolitiFact rated the claim of a connection between Kennedy's retirement and Russia to be "false" in a Tuesday analysis. But the site focused narrowly on the likely exaggerated claim by "bloggers" that "Justice Kennedy retired last week because 'he and his son helped launder illegal Russian money through Deutsche Bank.'"
The site did not address why the Trump-Kennedy family and financial relationship was never mentioned during the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump's pledge to pick far-right Supreme Court justices was key to his persuading conservatives to support him despite reservations about his character, as Politico reported.
Nor did the fact-checking site address why Trump and Kennedy took the highly unorthodox step of conducting secret, backroom negotiations to secure Kennedy's "comfort" in retiring, even though his retirement had long been predicted by experts and even by the political betting market site PredictIt.