Deconstructing Russiagate, Part 5: The Clinton Connection (Section A)

Among Trump’s many contacts in the world of organized crime was a man named Edward “Biff” Halloran, a concrete magnate with ties to the Genovese crime family who mysteriously vanished in 1998. According to Wayne Barrett’s biography of Trump, The Greatest Show on Earth: 

“… Biff Halloran, who’d supplied the concrete to the Hyatt, was also given the Trump Tower contract. Cody’s drivers worked for Halloran’s company, and the two were so closely linked that Halloran had reciprocated with complementary services for Cody in a Manhattan hotel he owned. Halloran had in fact been questioned by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn about his hotel suite and other payoffs to Cody shortly before they spoke with Donald in 1980. Halloran was another one-time Cohn client who, according to the government, ‘obtained his monopoly over the supply of ready-mix concrete through the direct intervention’ of the mob, and was convicted in the federal racketeering case with Nick Auletta. While Halloran did, during the construction of Trump Tower, buyout the only other Manhattan-based concrete suppliers and establish a virtual monopoly, he had at least one wholly independent competitor at the time he was awarded the Trump job.”

As Recluse notes in his excellent series examining Trump’s criminal and parapolitical history: 

“Prior to hooking up with Trump, Halloran had taken on a most interesting business partner during the early 1970s: Bradley Bryant…In 1970, Halloran tapped Bryant to run the Armstrong Corporation, an industrial waste service Halloran ran out of Philadelphia. Bryant’s tenure at Armstrong was most productive and he learned much from Halloran. In 1975 he started his own company and while successful, he soon became bored with ‘legitimate’ business.” 

Bryant started selling small amounts of narcotics to corrupt Lexington cop Andrew “Drew” Thorton. As The Washington Post detailed after Thorton’s death in 1985: “Thornton was raised on Threave Main Stud, a thoroughbred horse farm in picturesque Bourbon County. The oldest son of Carter and Peggy Thornton…he was guaranteed induction into Kentucky’s blue-blood society.” After graduating from a prestigious, private elementary school, Thornton, like Bryant, attended Sewanee Military Academy. From there, Thorton became a paratrooper for the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg during the USA’s 1965 invasion of Dominican Republic. After becoming a cop in the early 1970s, Thornton worked in the Lexington police department’s first narcotics squad,where he collaborated with regional DEA officials in the early days of the War on Drugs. On the side, Bryant began to work with the Dixie Mafia trafficking drugs, and his business soon came to supply criminal syndicates all over the country. This business was informally known as “The Company.” 

In addition to drug trafficking, Thorton became a fixture in the world of covert operations and survivalist paramilitarism. According to the Washington Post: “Anticipating a nuclear holocaust, he stockpiled paramilitary weapons, freeze-dried foods, gold coins. He wore camouflage fatigues and swastikas and bulletproof vests, and talked about eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth. He considered himself a free-lance military adviser of sorts, siding with anticommunists around the world — the Salvadoran government, the Nicaraguan contras, South African industrialists.” In 1981, after Thornton and Bryant established a Kentucky-based drug empire worth millions of dollars, “Bryant was arrested in a hotel in Philadelphia… In Bryant’s possession at the time of his arrest was a cache of semiautomatic weapons, disguises, more than 10 fraudulent Kentucky driver’s licenses and $22,000 in cash.” Bryant claimed that the CIA had sanctioned his activities and he was found with a notebook detailing plans for various paramilitary operations. As Sally Denton and Roger Morris note in The Money and the Power:

“By the late seventies, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)… in Las Vegas had focused on Caesars Palace as the headquarters of a multimillion-dollar, international drug-smuggling organization that called itself ‘The Company.’ Whether a renegade offshoot of the CIA, which was commonly called ‘the company’ in intelligence circles, or not, it was a highly sophisticated, impenetrable enterprise. The DEA was forced, with some embarrassment, to admit that ‘The Company’ surpassed the federal government’s crime-fighting abilities…the DEA admitted in highly confidential internal memorandums to Washington superiors that ‘the magnitude, scope, and complexity of the operations’ exceeded its field capabilities. At the heart of the Las Vegas investigation was a Texas highroller named Jamiel ‘Jimmy’ Chagra, an American drug kingpin tied to the Patriarca crime family in New England and the Chicago Syndicate.” 

In The Bluegrass Conspiracy, Sally Denton further details how The Company overlapped with the New Right and emerging “militia movement.” This connection is exemplified by The Company’s connection to the magazine Soldier of Fortune:  

“During the mid-1970s, Bradley and Drew had become deeply involved with what is known as the [Soldier of Fortune] crowd – a group of freelance military advisers and mercenaries whose unofficial leader is Robert Brown, the publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine. How that association developed is not clear. Since both Bradley and Drew had been gung ho military types who fancied themselves as paramilitary experts, the SOF crowd was a natural melting pot. At the annual Las Vegas convention of soldiers of fortune, Bradley and Drew came into contact with a number of Vietnam veterans who were looking for action.” 

Robert K. Brown, the founder of Soldier of Fortune, had served in the Army from 1954-1957 and in 1964 graduated from the Army Intelligence Center at Fort Holabird, Maryland. From there, Brown was anointed a Green Beret and dispatched to Vietnam, where he participated in the CIA-led counterinsurgency operation known as the Phoenix Program. According to Douglas Valentine, Brown was directly connected to the Iran-Contra network by the early 1980s. As Valentine writes: “… the person initially chosen by [Oliver] North to resupply the contras was former SOG commander John Singlaub, who in doing so worked with Soldier of Fortune publisher Robert Brown…”

Biff Halloran first hooked up with Bryant and Thorton via the Kentucky Derby. According to Sally Denton:

“… Bradley had obtained a high-paying corporate executive position, thanks to his friendship with John Young Brown, Jr. – the fast-food wizard who had made millions with his Kentucky Fried Chicken empire. Bradley had gotten to know Brown when his younger sister Lynne married one of Brown’s best friends – Dan Chandler. Chandler, the wayward son of former Kentucky governor A.B. ‘Happy’ Chandler, worked for ‘John Y.,’ as everyone called the chicken magnet, in the franchise business. The marriage of Lynne Bryant to Dan Chandler signaled Bradley’s inclusion into a slightly older, and more solidly entrenched, generation of bluebloods. Chandler and Brown were like big brothers to Bradley, and their fast crowd of jet setters and gamblers appealed to Bradley’s adventurous streak. Through them, Bradley met his future partner – a Philadelphia multimillionaire named Edward ‘Biff’ Halloran, who was a regular at the Kentucky Derby…When Chandler and Brown introduced Bradley to Halloran, Bradley was working as a flak in Frankfort for the state governments – a patronage position Chandler had helped Bradley land…”

In 1980, just as The Company’s operations started to rapidly expand, KFC billionaire John Young Brown became Kentucky’s governor. Meanwhile, Anita Madden, a millionaire socialite not unlike Ghislaine Maxwell, hired Thorton’s Company-men to run security for her legendary Kentucky Derby parties. Donald Trump became quite active in these same social circles, attending the 1983 Derby Eve Gala, which happened to be hosted by Governor Brown. This Gala was also attended by Bill and Hillary Clinton. 

1983 Kentucky Derby Gala w/Trump. Ironically, Hillary is on the “far left” corner of the photo

The Clintons had arrived at such a high-society event as an extension of their respective class backgrounds, along with the powerful position within Southern politics which they’d cultivated by the early 1980s. After his birth-father died in a car accident three months before his birth, Bill Clinton’s mother married a man named Robert Clinton Sr. and the pair relocated to Clinton Sr.’s hometown of Hot Springs, Arkansas, which has a long history as a hub of organized crime:

“Long before Las Vegas became the underworld’s casino playground, Hot Springs, Arkansas, was home away from home for the most notorious names in U.S. organized crime. Al Capone, Albert Anastasia, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Carlos Marcello — these and many more vacationed in the Spa City, where illegal but open prostitution and gambling attracted Mob royalty for decades until the casinos were shut down in the late 1960s…

…Hot Springs became well-known not only because of the many legendary baseball players such as Babe Ruth who spent time there when it was a spring training site, but because of the ranking Mob figures who, under the protection of corrupt local law enforcement and elected officials, visited this central Arkansas town, making headlines along with Depression-era criminals such as Frank ‘Jelly’  Nash and Alvin ‘Creepy’ Karpis, who used the place as a hideout…

…In Hot Springs during its heyday, gangsters vacationed there to enjoy the soothing mineral waters but also to take in the city’s thriving nightlife and to bet on the horses at Oaklawn racetrack. At one time, Hot Springs had a dozen casinos and countless other places with just slot machinesMafia heavyweight and New York political fixer Frank Costello, hobnobbed with power brokers while vacationing in the Spa City. At one point, it was rumored that Costello might take over the gambling operations in Hot Springs, but he denied that in a 1951 letter to a local newspaper. He once told authorities that when visiting this Southern resort town, he got together with people he knew.” 

In 1992, Hot Springs Mayor Melinda Baran told The Washington Post that “every family in town has a skeleton rattling around in the closet.” Indeed, as the Post notes, “By the time the first Clinton arrived from the small Arkansas town of Dardanelle in 1919, sin had been flourishing in Hot Springs for a half-century. Central Avenue was lined with ornate bath houses on one side and betting parlors on the other. Gambling was illegal but open, as was prostitution, and in fact both enterprises funded the local government, such as it was.” During this era of Hot Springs, Bill’s uncle, Raymond Clinton, was “a sharp-eyed financier who at times challenged the status quo but knew how to accommodate it when that better suited his purposes.” According to Raymond, “I was working in a drugstore back in the early ’20s when Al Capone used to come down, walk down the street with his hat…You couldn’t miss him … and I stood out lots of nights in front of the drugstore and watched him walking down the street because just four or five doors above me was the Southern Club, and that’s where they hung out when gambling was going on.” According to Raymond, after he gained control of a Buick Dealership owned by Clinton’s stepfather he “did a lot of business with [the Mob].”

During the era of Prohibition, Clinton Sr. and his brother Raymond eventually got on the wrong side of Hot Springs boss, Leo P. McLaughlin, but avoided any major harm. On the contrary, Raymond launched a counterattack: “Raymond Clinton and several of his buddies who had just returned from the war plotted McLaughlin’s overthrow. They formed what was known as the GI Movement and ran veterans for all city and county offices on an anti-gambling reform ticket. The GIs won, and their first act was to strip McLaughlin’s name off the new airport.” The so-called GI Movement included “Sid McMath, who went on to become the governor of Arkansas, and Q. Byrum Hurst, who went on to become Jimmy Hoffa’s lawyer.” Under the new management of Raymond’s group, gambling returned to Hot Springs under the control of Irish mobster Owney Madden.

During his childhood, Bill lived in a house owned by his Uncle Raymond and in his teenage years attended the elite Hot Springs High. As one of Bill’s classmates recalls, “The whole culture surrounding the high school was of a very strong middle class…We were the Chosen Ones. We were the ones who were going to do better than our parents did…We always felt different from the other people in Arkansas, who were hicky and redneck.” In spite of Clinton Sr.’s drunken beatings of Bill’s mother, Bill went out of his way to legally adopt his stepfather’s last name, indicating a desire for the privileges that name would afford him in Hot Springs and beyond. 

After graduation from Hot Springs High, Bill attended Georgetown University, “home to some of the most significant figures from OSS and the American intelligence community, most notably Gen. William Donovan, Ambassador David Bruce, William Colby, Desmond Fitzgerald, the Alsop brothers and Frank Wisner.” After World War 2, the CIA and other organs of American national security continued to heavily recruit from Georgetown, along with George Washington University, the University of Maryland and American University, all located in Washington DC. In 1968, Bill graduated from Georgetownto Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. While at Oxford, Bill met Richard G. Stearns, Vice President for International Affairs of the National Student Association. In 1967, just one year before Bill came to Oxford, the National Student Association and several other student groups were revealed to be a CIA front: 

“…the Gotham Foundation, the Borden Trust, the Andrew Hamilton Fund, and so on—these eight foundations were CIA cutouts. The agency had approached wealthy people it knew to be sympathetic and asked them to head dummy foundations. Those people were then put on a masthead, a name for the foundation was invented, sometimes an office was rented to provide an address, and a conduit came into being. The members of the phony boards even held annual meetings, at which ‘business’ was discussed, expenses paid by the agency.

The dummy foundations were used to channel money to groups the agency wanted to support. Sometimes the CIA passed funds through the dummies to legitimate charitable foundations, like the Kaplan Fund, which in turn passed it along to groups like the National Student Association. Sometimes the cutouts existed solely to write checks to the CIA’s beneficiaries.”

Stearns would go on to work with Bill on the 1972 campaign of George McGovern. Once Bill became President, he helped Stearns become a District Court Judge for Massachusetts. Clinton originally wanted to make Stearns his FBI Director, but there were some unfortunate complications.

On this same point, Bill’s roommate at Oxford, Nelson Strobridge “Strobe” Talbott III, hailed from an upper class family in Ohio and was a typical Yalie before taking the trip to London. Talbott’s great-uncle, Harold E. Talbott, Jr., as Secretary of the Air Force from 1953 to 1955, helped forge a closer relationship between the Air Force and the CIA which ultimately led to the development of the U-2 spy plane. Talbott would later became a member of the Clinton’s private intelligence service, Investigative Group International, and later played a key role in the “shock therapy” that ravaged the Russian economy in the 90s. In the Trump era, Talbott would be responsible, along with neoconservative hardliner John McCain, for the dissemination of the infamous Steele dossier.  According to several respectable Democrats and a smattering of “anti-Trump” Republicans, this document would prove definitively that Trump was a Russian puppet. It didn’t:

“It is not clear what Talbott, a longtime friend of the Clintons’, did with the dossier once he obtained it, but Fiona Hill, a former Brookings officials who served in the Trump White House, told Congress last year that Talbott provided her a copy of the dossier a day before BuzzFeed published it…On Nov. 18, 2016, nearly a week after Steele’s exchange with Talbott, Wood approached McCain and Kramer, the late senator’s associate, at the Halifax International Security Forum…Kramer, who served in the State Department under George W. Bush, obtained the dossier and provided it to McCain. The Republican shared a copy with then-FBI Director James Comey on Dec. 9, 2016.” 

As if coming from a small but powerful crime family and attending two of the spookiest Anglo-American universities on Earth wasn’t enough, Bill left Oxford to finish his education at Yale. It was here, in 1971, where he supposedly first met Hillary Rodham. At the time, Hillary was in the middle of a political evolution  from her teenage years as a committed footsoldier of far right GOP candidate Barry Goldwater (who had the full support of all the anticommunist spook and reactionary capitalists mentioned thus far) to a “Rockefeller Republican” supporter of Nixon and finally to the prototype of the conservative “New Democrat” movement her, Bill, Al Gore, Dianne Feinstein and others would exemplify as the 1970s drew to a close. 

Unlike Bill, Hillary wasn’t surrounded by criminals and intelligence agents from the get-go, but her upbringing was still far from “working class.” Her father, Hugh Rodham, managed a robust textile business and was himself a committed Goldwaterite. Before attending Yale, Hillary had a stint at Wellesley College, where she became president of the campus chapter of the Young Republicans. As Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. chronicle in Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hillary’s political “evolution” was catalyzed by the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Unlike her peers, however, these events did not further radicalize Hillary, but proved to her how now more than ever what America needed was The Establishment:

“Though ‘unnerved’ by the assassinations, Hillary soon after traveled to Washington to serve for nine weeks in the Wellesley Internship Program. The program placed students in congressional offices and government agencies to see ‘how government works.’ Alan Schechter, the program’s director, decided to assign Hillary to the House Republican Conference…Hillary, the head of the Wellesley delegation, wanted to soak up as much national politics as possible. She became close to Goodell, who represented western New York and who had been appointed to the Senate by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to replace Robert Kennedy until a special election was held. As the internship wound down, Goodell asked Hillary and a few other interns to accompany him to the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, to work on behalf of Governor Rockefeller’s lastgasp attempt to wrest the party’s nomination from Richard Nixon. Despite her shifting political allegiances, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.”

Supposedly it was Nixon’s victory over Rockefeller that cemented Hillary’s decision to switch from the GOP to the Democratic Party. She wrote that she didn’t like that the conservative voice, represented by Nixon, defeated the “moderate” voice represented by Nelson Rockefeller. This  “moderate” Republican, as Governor of New York, had doubled the size of the state police and insisted on its adoption of racist stop-and-frisk policies, supported Nixon’s (and later Reagan and Trump’s) “law and order” rhetoric and the War on Drugs that followed it (Rockefellers drug laws are still regarded as some of the toughest ever implemented in the United States). He also intentionally implemented a brutal response to the Attica prison riot that led to excess deaths In fact, Rockefeller telephoned his supposed archrival President Nixon to gloat, calling the work of his stormtroopers in quelling the riot “beautiful”.

Another example of what Hillary’s “moderation” really meant can be found in her response to the police’s brutalizing of protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. As Gerth and Van Natta Jr. write: “The police officers’ brazen display of violence against young protesters stunned her. But she was also turned off by the other side: young people who attempted to change the world through violence masquerading as ‘civil disobedience.’” Apparently the massive violence inflicted by her beloved “moderates” in the course of the Vietnam War or in response to the Black Power movement had little to no effect on Hillary, but a few hippies throwing rocks at police dressed in riot gear did. One final anecdote from Gerth and Van Natta Jr.’s book sums up how Bill and Hillary perceived their role in the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1960s and 70s. On an early date, the couple decided to see a Mark Rothko exhibit at the Yale Art Gallery. “A workers’ strike had closed the museum, but Bill persuaded a guard on duty to let them in, in exchange for Bill’s cleaning branches and litter in the museum’s garden.” In other words, the personal fulfillment of Bill and Hillary’s ambitions superseded the basic left-liberal principle of honoring a picket line. 

From here, Hillary joined Bill and his old fed friend Stearns on the 1972 George McGovern campaign. In 1974, Bill returned to Arkansas with Hillary, and, after an unsuccessful campaign for the House of Representatives, became Arkansas’s Attorney General in 1976. The following year, two Indonesian billionaires named Mochtar Riady and Liem Sioe Liong moved to Arkansas. Riady and Liong had benefited from Suharto’s 1965 coup and subsequent mass murder of at least one million Indonesians, which was at every step supported by the United States via the CIA and State Department. 

According to Newsweek, Riady was an evangelical Christian who educated his son, James, in Australia before shipping him off “to the Bible Belt to learn the hard-charging ways of American finance.” James Riady started meeting with Bill  via a mutual friend, Jackson Stephens, “who’d bankrolled Arkansas campaigns and built the largest investment firm west of Wall Street…Stephens ended up doing deals with Mochtar Riady, head of the Jakarta-based Lippo Group; taking on his son as a trainee was an act of goodwill. As for Clinton, Stephens…threw support to him and legal work to his wife, Hillary Rodham, who had just joined The Rose Law Firm.” In his biography of Hillary, Carl Bernstein referred to Rose as “the ultimate establishment law firm” in Arkansas, whereas David Maraniss, in his biography of Bill, dubbed it “the legal arm of the powerful.”

While Stephens had been friends with Jimmy Carter since their days in the United States Naval Academy, he and his wife became major financial backers of the “Reagan Revolution.” According to the official Congressional inquiry, Stephens was, by way of his business partner Bert Lance, also a major player in the Bank of Credits and Commerce International (BCCI):

By September 21, 1977, when Bert Lance tendered his resignation from the position of director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to President Jimmy Carter, Lance had become the most notorious banker in the United States…Lance had become president of National Bank of Georgia in January 1975, and quickly come into conflict with Financial General’s headquarters in Washington for making loans which both exceeded his lending limit and were not secured by collateral. FGB’s chairman, William J. Schuiling, was sufficiently disturbed by Lance’s practices that he intended to force a show-down with Lance. But by June, 1975, Lance instead offered to buy FGB’s controlling interest in National Bank of Georgia for $7.8 million…Lance continued to meet with General Olmstead regarding the sale of FGB, and put Olmstead in touch with William G. Middendorf, a former secretary of the Navy who ultimately decided to take over FGB…As of April 1977, Middendorf and a group of twenty investors purchased Olmstead’s interests in FGB, and Middendorf was installed as the chairman of the bank. But the takeover group, including former ambassador to Iran Joseph Farland, Arkansas banker Jackson Stephens, and Occidental Petroleum chairman Armand Hammer, swiftly began to disintegrate. By November, 1977 the shareholders had split, with Stephens heading a group opposed to Middendorf — even as the Federal Reserve ordered Olmstead and his group to end their dual relationship to both International Bank and FGB by January 31, 1978.

It was precisely at this point that FGB, Bert Lance, and BCCI came together to bring about BCCI’s secret purchase of a $2 billion bank in the nation’s capitol…A second, and inconsistent, account of BCCI’s initial entry into the U.S. was provided to the Washington Post in 1978 by participants in the FGB takeover battle, and later reiterated in filings with the Federal Reserve by Lance and BCCI attorney Robert Altman. By this account, the initial contact between BCCI and FGB came from Arkansas multi-millionaire and FGB shareholder Jackson Stephens.

At the time, Stephens was both a close friend of Lance’s, and a longtime activist in Democratic political circles. Stephens had been instrumental in fundraising efforts for President Jimmy Carter, who had been his classmate at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. Moreover, Stephens retained a financial interest in National Bank of Georgia after Lance purchased it from FGB.” 

If this account is to be believed, Stephens maintained direct contact with Agha Hasan Abedi, the enigmatic Pakistani who created and controlled BCCI. As the Washington Post wrote: “A BCCI executive said the Arabs weren’t interested in FGB, but the subject came up again on Nov. 26 when Stephens and Lance met Abedi in Atlanta for more talks about National Bank of Georgia. Abedi began to sound interested, and Stephens reportedly offered to sell a block of 4.9 percent of FGB and recommended Abedi meet [Eugene Metzger, a dissident shareholder with a significant number of FGB shares] to pursue the matter.” And according to the BCCI Congressional inquiry: “In late November, Stephens told Abedi that Abedi should meet with FGB investor Eugene Metzger, and designate Metzger and Stephens as agents for these Middle Eastern investors. Neither BCCI nor any of its affiliates provided financing for the purchase of the stocks, although BCCI advanced the funds through the accounts the Middle East investors maintained at BCCI.” 

Whatever version is true, Stephens’ position as a key player in the BCCI scandal is a matter of congressional record. Coupled with Stephens’ status as a supporter of the GOP around this time (Stephens and his wife were called “Mr. And Mrs. Republican in Arkansas” and he chaired George HW Bush’s 1988 campaign in Arkansas and helped organize his inaugural) the implications are clear. As for Stephens’ friend Mochtar Riady, he “expressed an interest in Lance’s stock. Although the stock deal never materialized, Witt and Jackson Stephens, the brothers who ran Stephens Inc., persuaded Riady to join them in their bank holding company, Worthen. Riady sent his son, James, to Worthen to learn the banking business.” 

In 1978, with Bill starting a campaign to become Arkansas’s governor, the Clintons turned to their friend James McDougal for money. McDougal and the Clintons spent over $200,000 to obtain property in the Ozarks known as Whitewater: “Whitewater offered easy credit to buyers who would not qualify for bank loans. Many of the lots were sold, repossessed, then sold again under ‘purchase agreements.’ Those sales, which are legal in Arkansas and some other states, were not recorded in land records until the last monthly payment was made; only then did the buyer receive a deed.” As Jeffrey St. Clair and Alexander Cockburn note:

“Payback for McDougal was not long postponed. Elected governor three months later, Clinton appointed McDougal chief financial advisor in the new administration. With even greater speed the Clintons and the McDougals reneged on commitments to make a 10 percent cash payment to a Flippen bank against 90 percent financing of their Whitewater purchase. Then they got another below-market-rate loan from a Little Rock bank, again in exchange of a marker against political favors….Frank Burge, a loan officer at the Citizens Bank and Trust Co. of Flippen, later told Stewart that when he presented the McDougal/Clinton deal to his board, he made the assumption–accepted by all present–that the plan was to have wealthy backers of Clinton ‘buy the lots at highly inflated prices as a clandestine means of funneling money into the governor’s pocket, thereby gaining influence.’”

At this same time, HIllary invested $1,000 into the cattle futures market and received a payout of $100,000 after just 10 months. That’s a profit of nearly %10,000. Hillary received “help” with this investment from broker Robert Bone and his firm, Refco, and Tyson Foods lawyer James Blair (Tyson is based in Arkansas and is the largest supplier of chickens to John Young Brown’s KFC). According to the Wall Street Journal, by the time Bill was running for governor, Refco had become one of the “most fast-and-loose firms” in a “roaring and volatile cattle market.”  

One former Refco clerk said that, “”When Hillary came forward and said she was doing her own trades, I knew immediately that she wasn’t telling the truth.” This clerk accused Refco of breaking the rules and Mr. Bone of particularly “serious and repeated violations of record-keeping functions, order-entry procedures, margin requirements and hedge procedures.” Without confirming or denying this charge, “Refco Chairman Thomas Dittmer and Mr. Bone agreed to penalties imposed by the exchange. Mrs. Clinton was among the customers for whom Refco traded without requiring the normal amount of margin money needed to cover likely losses.” As St. Clair and Cockburn note, “In their federal income tax returns for the years 1978, 1979, and 1980, the Clintons deducted not merely interest payments on their Whitewater mortgages but also principal–$20,000 was the illegal portion of the deduction–thus helping offset her gain on the commodities scam.” 

Another important figure in the rise of the Clintons is political consultant Dick Morris, who first met Bill in 1977 and was quickly hired to his campaign for governor. Morris, a native of New York City, is the son of Eugene Morris, the brother of Al Cohn. In other words, Dick Morris’s uncle is Roy Cohn’s father and the two are first cousins. The media has downplayed this connection, but as previously noted in this series, Al Cohn was a powerful figure in  the criminal politics of New York City. Eugene Morris was no small fry either:A top real estate lawyer who did the deals that created Lincoln Center, Gene Morris had learned from a master: his uncle Al Cohn, the Democratic boss of the Bronx. Cohn had raised Gene like a son after Gene’s natural father abandoned him. Cohn’s youngest child was Roy Cohn, who grew up to be one of the most hated and feared right-wing power brokers of his generation.”

Bill failed to make much of a positive impression on Arkansas during his first term as governor, losing his reelection bid in 1980. According to journalist James B. Stewart, the morning after Bill’s election defeat, Hillary phoned their Whitewater partner McDougal and told him, “You need to send us money. We need it right now, and we need all you can send.” According to Clair and Cockburn, McDougal attempted to buy the Clintons out of the Whitewater deal, but Hillary turned him down four separate times, “presumably because Whitewater was useful as a tax shelter, especially under HRC’s generous estimate of what constituted a legitimate deduction.” At the same time, Bill joined the Little Rock law firm of his friend Bruce Lindsey (Wright, Lindsey, and Jennings). By this time, CIA drug trafficker Barry Seal was using a clandestine air strip in Mena, Arkansas to traffick cocaine for Colombia’s Medellin cartel, which allegedly had its own connections with the CIA. In fact, “it was on Escobar’s suggestion that Seal moved his favored airstrip from Louisiana to west Arkansas” in 1982, the same year Bill managed to recapture the governor’s office.

One year later, the Clintons’ friends from Indonesia, Mochtar and James Riady, started Lippo Finance and Investment in Little Rock with a $2 million loan from the Small Business Association. “As a nonresident alien, Riady was not allowed to chair a company capitalized by the SBA, so he hired President Carter’s former SBA administrator, Vernon Weaver, to chair Lippo Finance for him.” In 1985, the Riadys’ bank, Worthen, owned by Jackson Stephens and his brother Witt, was investigated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for extending favorable loans to businesses owned by the Riadys and the Stephenses. Worthen also loaned $14 million to companies owned by Liem Sioe Liong, another Indonesian billionaire who aided the rise of the Riadys. However, Bill’s neoliberal approach to his second term saw him turn to the issuing of bonds to solve problems, and it was from Worthen that 61% of the $7 billion worth of bonds issued in Arkansas came from. This may have had something to do with the Stephenses major contributions to his campaign.

Riady bought a 30% stake in Worthen in 1984. “In the course of its Arkansas dealings with Worthen, the Riadys ended up joint owners of the First National Bank in Mena.” Joseph Giroir, one of Worthen’s major stockholders during this time, was a lawyer at the Rose Law Firm with Hillary Clinton. In 1985, Bill successfully lobbied the Arkansas legislature to approve a contract for Dan Lasater, an old friend who owned a national restaurant chain and ran a bond trading firm in the state. Roger Clinton Jr., Bill’s brother, worked at Lasater’s horse farm. In exchange for all of his hard work, Lasater bailed Roger out of a $3,000 cocaine debt. Bill and Lasater grew very close, with the businessman contributing “money to the governor’s campaign” and “fundraising parties at his offices.” Lasater even made his private plane available to “the ambitious young governor for campaign jaunts and encouraged his staff to donate to the governor’s campaign, promising higher commissions to compensate for the donations, according to published reports.” At one point in 1985, Lasater also made his plane available to “squire celebrities to a charity function organized by Hillary Rodham Clinton.” 

That same year, the Democratic Leadership Committee (DLC), an organization intended to push the Democratic Party in a more neoliberal direction on economics and towards a greater tolerance of social conservatives within the party, was formed and Bill appointed its chairman. By the end of the 1980s, the DLC’s budget surpassed $2 million, with most of the money coming from massive corporations (Jesse Jackson referred to the DLC as “Democrats for the leisure class”). The names of specific donors to the DLC weren’t made public until 2000, when it was revealed that the organization received generous contributions from Republican Kingmakers Charles and David Koch, with two Koch Industries executives were listed as members of the board of trustees and the event committee. The Kochs were joined by DuPont, Aetna, AT&T, American Airlines, AIG, BellSouth, Chevron, Enron, IBM, Merck and Company, Microsoft, Philip Morris, Texaco, and Verizon Communications. 

Thus, by the time the Clintons attended the Kentucky Derby Gala with Trump, they were deeply entrenched in the world of corporate-banking capital and its collaborators in the world of organized crime. In Bill’s case, he descended directly from the latter and had clear connections to the national security community as well, which is probably why he “looked the other way” as Barry Seale and the CIA used Mena, Arkansas as a drug and weapons trafficking hub during Iran-Contra. Unsurprisingly, not long after Clinton joined the DLC, his friend Dan Lasater was also convicted of trafficking cocaine in Arkansas.  

Lasater would have also faced jail time for contributing to the savings-and-loan crisis, but luckily the state government hired Rose Law Firm to investigate his firm. Rose gave the case to Hillary, who brokered a deal with the government allowing Lasater to pay a $200,000 fine in exchange for dismissing a $3 million lawsuit against him. Two years earlier, Hillary appeared before state officials on behalf of Madison Guaranty, the savings and loan firm belonging to her Whitewater partner James McDougal. Needless to say, the firm remained in business despite considerable evidence of its shaky finances. “Several years later, the institution collapsed with losses to taxpayers of more than $60 million.” The company stayed around just long enough for McDougal to host a 1985 fundraiser, to help pay off a $50,000 bank loan taken out by the Clintons to finance Bill’s 1984 re-election bid. 

When Bill ran for President in 1992, “his Indonesian friends did not forget him. James Riady, in particular, exerted himself mightily in rallying California’s Asian community to support Clinton. Once Clinton was elected, James Riady became a repeat guest at the White House.” After becoming President, Bill, “opposed an amendment offered by Russell Feingold (D-WI) which

would have restricted arms sales to Indonesia and…skirted a congressional ban on American-paid training of Indonesian troops…” Riady family members and executives of the Lippo Group would contribute nearly $500,000 to the Democrats between 1991 and 2001, at which time Riady was ruled to be in violation of campaign contribution laws. But “foreign influence” wasn’t the only source of Bill and the New Democrats’ success. During his first campaign for president, Bill received a staggering amount of support from Wall Street:

One out of every four dollars he has raised comes from New York, a lot of it from Wall Streeters. That’s $2 million of his total $8.5 million take. And after his Connecticut primary defeat by former California Governor Jerry Brown, Clinton is counting on Street money to enable him to win big in New York’s Apr. 7 primary. Even before the New Hampshire primary, the Arkansas governor netted $623,000 from a Feb. 10 fund-raiser at the Sheraton New York Hotel, a record amount for a Democratic candidate at that early date. ‘Being able to raise money in New York has been instrumental in taking us from New Hampshire to this point,’ says Paul Carey, a Clinton finance director.

How did Clinton pull it off? The answer lies in his close ties to the pro-business, moderate wing of the Democratic party, as well as his and his wife’s lifelong skill in collecting well-connected friends. Despite his attempt to portray himself as an outsider, Clinton has financed his campaign by being the consummate insider.”

Goldman Sachs had supported Bill since at least 1988, when the bank wrote a $160 million bond issue for an Arkansas state authority. In 1990, Goldman’s political action committee supported Bill’s gubernatorial campaign and the following year the bank underwrote a $27 million bond issue for an Arkansas county. Goldman Sachs was also the lead bond writer for Wal-Mart, based in Little Rock. In 1986, one year after Bill joined the DLC, Hillary joined Wal-Mart’s board of directors, remaining there until 1992: “From 1986-1991, Wal-Mart created 230,000 jobs, more than any other firm in the country. The company grew quickly because it was wildly profitable and it was wildly profitable because it obsessively managed expenses…then, as now, Walmart’s biggest cost was labor. And to keep labor costs in check, Wal-Mart took pains to make sure its workers didn’t unionize. During Clinton’s tenure, the company’s strategy for dealing with organized labor was directed by fellow board member, John Tate. Mr. Tate famously summed up his philosophy at a 2004 managers meeting: ‘Labor unions are nothing but blood-sucking parasites living off the productive labor of people who work for a living.’”  According to then Vice-President of the Wal-Mart board, Hillary was not only “not a dissenter” but was actively “part of those decisions.” 

Roger Altman, vice chairman of the multibillion dollar investment firm Blackstone Group (descended from the same family tree of financial institutions as the infamous BlackRock) and Ken Brody, a partner with Goldman Sachs, organized a series of meetings with Clinton at Blackstone’s offices. “Attendees included Theodore Ammon, a Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. partner, Michael Bloomberg, president of Bloomberg Financial Markets, and Peter Tufo, partner at Lazard Freres & Co. All became fund-raisers.” Billionaire hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt also contributed upwards of $20,000 to Clinton’s first campaign. Steinhardt would go on to sit on the board of Genie Energy with Dick Cheney, James Woolsey, and Rupert Murdoch. Larry Summers, who Clinton poached from the World Bank for his Treasury Department in 1993, would also join the board of Genie Energy not long after his stint as Dean of Harvard. During Larry Summers tenure as dean, he developed a “special connection” with Jeffrey Epstein, although the pair had become friends, “a number of years…before Summers became Harvard’s president and even before he was the Secretary of the Treasury.” Perhaps this has something to do with Epstein’s 17 visits to the Clinton White House between 1993 and 1995. 

The Clinton Presidency represented not only a preservation, but an exacerbation of the Reagan/Bush economic and military agenda. Reagan had proposed something like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as early as his first campaign announcement in 1979, and New Right think tanks and NGOs, such as the Heritage Foundation, went to work normalizing and advocating the idea within mass media and academic institutions:

“Since the mid-1980s, Heritage analysts have been stressing that a free trade agreement with Mexico not only will stimulate economic growth in the US, but will make Mexico a more stable and prosperous country. Heritage has published over three dozen studies stressing the benefits of free trade in North America…In June 1986, then-Heritage analyst Edward L. Hudgins wrote ‘A U.S. Strategy to Solve Mexico’s Debt Crisis.’ In that Backgrounder, Hudgins urged the Reagan Administration to ‘explore further special free trade and investment arrangements’ with Mexico. Said Hudgins: ‘The possibility of a complete free trade and investment zone [between the U.S. and Mexico] should be explored. Ultimately, a complete Free Trade Area between the U.S. and Mexico should be sought, similar to the U.S.-Canada pact [then] being negotiated.’

Four years later, Heritage analyst Michael Wilson argued in an Executive Memorandum entitled ‘Bush and Salinas Should Launch Free Trade Talks Between the U.S. and Mexico’: ‘What were once distant neighbors now appear to be developing into economic and geopolitical partners. George Bush should strengthen this cooperative relationship not only by supporting Salinas’s economic reforms, but by moving quickly to negotiate a free trade agreement with Mexico.’”

While it was Bush Sr. who signed off on NAFTA on his way out of the White House, it took Bill’s signature to ratify and fully implement it, which took place less than a year after Bill took over the Oval Office. It didn’t take long for NAFTA to finish the destruction of the Mexican economy begun under Reagan’s trusted Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker. According to David Bacon:

“Up until the mid-1980s, Mexico had a very protective policy that restricted foreign investment and controlled the exchange rate to encourage domestic growth. A sharp shift in the late 1980s included market opening measures, privatization, and economic reforms. These reforms were accelerated by NAFTA’s provisions on foreign investment…NAFTA produced an increase in US investment in auto plants, electronics and garment factories, meatpacking plants, and other enterprises. Foreign direct investment rose from $17 billion in 1994 to $104 billion in 2012. US companies—not only in manufacturing—expanded into Mexico generally, using economic reforms and privatization as their wedge. Wal-Mart became Mexico’s largest private-sector employer. Union Pacific and Grupo Mexico bought up the nation’s railroads and ended passenger service (which Union Pacific had long since ended in the US)Big Mexican capital also moved into the U.S., where Mexican investment [in 2017] reached $16 billion—the level of U.S. investment in Mexico in 1994, when NAFTA went into effect. A number of these corporations brought with them the anti-worker policies they had honed at home…

These changes put Mexican workers increasingly into competition with U.S. and Canadian workers. At the time of its enactment, some NAFTA champions argued that it would reduce the wage differential between them. Though the wages of U.S. workers have largely stagnated, that differential has nonetheless grown. The average Mexican wage was 23 percent of the U.S. manufacturing wage in 1975. By 2002 it had fallen to less than 12 percent. NAFTA hurt Mexican wages, rather than reducing the differential. In the 20 years after NAFTA went into effect, the buying power of the Mexican minimum wage dropped by 24 percent…

NAFTA forced unsubsidized Mexican corn farmers to compete in the Mexican market against imported corn produced by America’s agricultural monopoly-capitalists, who used their massive government subsidies as a weapon in the NAFTA-fomented rush to pillage Mexico. Furthermore, “NAFTA prohibited price supports, without which hundreds of thousands of small farmers found it impossible to sell their corn or other farm products for what it cost to produce them…The World Bank in 2005 found that the extreme rural poverty rate of 35 percent in 1992-94, prior to NAFTA taking effect, jumped to 55 percent in 1996-98, after NAFTA was in place. By 2010, 53 million Mexicans were living in poverty, about 20 percent in extreme poverty, almost all in rural areas.” In the first year of NAFTA, one million Mexicans lost their jobs and the peso was massively devalued. During the first decade of the 21st Century, hundreds of thousands of jobs were eliminated in Mexico, causing millions of Mexicans to risk their lives and accept a massive drop in quality of life immigrating to the United States:

“In 1990, 4.5 million Mexican migrants were living in the U.S. By 2008 the number reached 12.67 million—roughly 9 percent of Mexico’s total population. Approximately 5.7 million of these immigrants were able to get some kind of visa, but another seven million couldn’t, and came nevertheless…The laws that created this migratory workforce operate as a huge subsidy to U.S. agribusiness. U.S. employers don’t have to pay the social cost of producing their workforce—the schools, health care, housing, or basic services in the Mexican towns from which the workers come. Instead, the burden falls on workers in the U.S. Mexican communities have become dependent on remittances by Mexican workers in the U.S., which totaled $27 billion in 2016. In 1996 they came to just $4 billion.” 

Meanwhile, over half a million stateside jobs manufacturing cars, electronics, apparel and other goods were relocated to Mexico, where they were worked by underpaid laborers in atrocious conditions:

“Job losses had a particular impact on workers of color. Plants that freeze broccoli and strawberries for frozen food companies like Green Giant moved from Watsonville to Irapuato. That cost the jobs of thousands of women who’d come north from Mexico, and then spent years on the freezer lines in Watsonville. In auto and other manufacturing plants, African American workers had long since broken the color line into more skilled and better paying jobs, only to see them relocated and the plants close.

In 1997 Cornell professor Kate Bronfenbrenner found that one out of every ten employers facing a union drive told their workers they’d move to Mexico if the employees voted in a union. In 2009 a second Bronfenbrenner report…found that 57 percent of employers facing a union election threatened to close their worksite. According to Jeff Faux, ‘NAFTA strengthened the ability of U.S. employers to force workers to accept lower wages and benefits.’”

A side agreement to NAFTA, the North American Labor Cooperation (NALC), was sold as a protectionist check against an international “race to the bottom” by American capitalists. This is almost entirely a sham: “The most any union or group of workers ever got from filing a case was ‘consultations’ between the governments, and public hearings. There is no provision in the agreement for assessing penalties for violation of union rights. There are minor penalties for violating child labor or occupational health laws, but they’ve never been invoked. Not a single union contract was signed as a result of the side-agreement process, nor was a single worker rehired.” 

At the same time as NAFTA was wreaking havoc, Bill signed off on the abolition of Glass-Steagall, which allowed commercial banks, backed up by the federal government, to work in lockstep with investment banks in riskier private sector ventures such as the securities market. He also worked to incorporate China into the World Trade Organization, which caused nearly 4 million jobs to be offshored from the United States to China from 2001-2017. In the middle of that exodus, the 2008 financial crisis, which came about partially as a result of Clinton’s nuking of Glass-Steagall, greatly accelerated negative employment trends in the United States that persist to this day. All of these things contributed to the 21st century American chauvinism and middle class “economic anxiety” that made Donald Trump such a popular presidential candidate. Even if Vladimir Putin did “help” him in some way, which he didn’t,  simply retaliating against Russia economically and militarily will not fix the root of the issue.

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