Adam Davidson Profile picture
Author of The Passion Economy, buy: https://t.co/h6m8356nIO . CEO, Three Uncanny Four, a maker of podcasts, with @lrmayer and @sonymusic
Merrill Holt Profile picture eDo Profile picture Oy Vey Profile picture Edward Shain Profile picture I AM NOT DISTRACTED 😷 Profile picture 31 added to My Authors
22 Nov
The TV show Yellowstone is such a helpful guide to Trumpism.

It creates a world where heroes are gruff men who say and do bad things, but for the RIGHT reasons.

And they are constantly being hampered by idiot city folk who don't know how cruel and tough the world is.

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The villains are federal government officials who cynically use environmental laws to stifle the hard-working real men. And a scheming Lesbian journalist from Seattle.

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There is a lot of stuff about wolves to demonstrate that the Real Men of Yellowstone are part of nature--where you kill or get killed, claim territory for your family or perish.

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Read 5 tweets
18 Nov
@joshtpm @JamesSurowiecki @andergw @savagecolin @brianbeutler James, you are facing the same fundamental misunderstanding of the core Kompromat.

The Trump Org's growth has all been with politically-connected partners in highly corrupt nations.
Azerbaijan: Minister of Transport.
Turkey: close ally of Erdogan.
Indonesia: Hary Tanoe.

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@joshtpm @JamesSurowiecki @andergw @savagecolin @brianbeutler ... who is the leader of an ambitious, big spending political party.
- Etc.
Scotland is the one place with no obvious government connection, but I--and the Scottish govt--are quite suspicious about where the money came from.

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@joshtpm @JamesSurowiecki @andergw @savagecolin @brianbeutler In the cases I know best, especially Azerbaijan, Trump Org has acknowledged that they were working on a project that served the interests of the pro-iran/pro-Moscow wing of Azerbaijani oligarchy.

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Read 8 tweets
29 Sep
This is why I think Trump is doing more than tax avoidance.

This is from financials for the Aberdeen property. It's one page from one year, but tells a story repeated year after year.

I hope at least some stick with me (esp. @susannecraig @russbuettner @mmcintire )

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@susannecraig @russbuettner @mmcintire The thing everyone reports is the losses--the shareholder (Trump) has lost more than £7M.

But the interesting stuff is the fixed asset value and the creditors--over one year.

Trump is all of them: he owns the asset, lends the money, owes the money, is owed the money.

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@susannecraig @russbuettner @mmcintire We see the same process year after year. He lends himself millions, the asset value is increased by that same number of millions.

This happens in many years when he does no work on the property--no investment, no building.

It happened through the 2008 crash.

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Read 17 tweets
29 Sep
A response to the @susannecraig @russbuettner
@mmcintire and their new argument which they say might debunk my stories on Trump and money laundering.

It's in part 2:
nytimes.com/interactive/20…

A thread about why I am skeptical of their skepticism:

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@susannecraig @russbuettner @mmcintire First off: they have, of course, done amazing work amassing these tax docs. As far as I can tell, they have done less work looking inside each deal. How could they examine hundreds of deal with the same level of scrutiny?

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@susannecraig @russbuettner @mmcintire Also, so far, they have not looked at these records through the eyes of money laundering. Any prosecutor will tell you that tax manipulation and money laundering are close cousins.

Lastly, they take his tax filings as accurate reflections of his income and spending.

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Read 13 tweets
28 Sep
Hey Dan,

I'm a fan, as you know!

But I'm skeptical that you are right about the wealth.

The deals I know best--especially the Sottish ones--are simply not worth the $70M plus you report.

They are illiquid--nobody would buy them.

They are unprofitable.

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He has been claiming a value that is impossible to justify by comps. Their actual realizable value is probably much less than he has put into them (if he is the one who put money into them).

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You might say: who cares about $70M or so when he has $2.5B.

But the Scottish and Irish properties are the only ones with publicly available audited financials. (They were weakly audited, tbf, but audited).

So, presumably, they are the closest to accurate.

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Read 6 tweets
28 Sep
Money laundering is simple and not, necessarily, a sophisticated crime.

It is, at base, story telling. Someone has a ton of dough they can't spend without raising questions. It's from drug money or corruption or whatever.

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Ozark and Breaking Bad explain all this well.

The person with the money arranges with someone to set up a sham business that can appear legitimate.

Typically, the business should be one that has imprecise value.

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Real estate, fine wine, art, etc, are great. You can justify whatever values you want.

New real estate development is especially good: tons of money flowing all over the world--for materials, designers, etc.

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Read 11 tweets
28 Sep
One theory on why the consulting frees are important:

- If Trump were buying golf courses for himself, hoping to generate revenue and build asset value, the last thing he'd want is to burden the project with unusually large fees for execs already on payroll who are heirs.

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- If, instead, Trump were buying properties for someone else, using his brand--such as it is--to mask the purchase, he'd need a way to charge a fee.

- He can't pay himself a fee for a property he owns. But he can, apparently, pay Ivanka wildly large fees.

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- In his more traditional Oligarch-facing work (Baku, Batumi, Panama, Vancouver, Toronto, Indonesia, etc), he was only a service provider, charging a fee.

- With the Scottish and Irish courses and Doral, he did something new. He [claimed to] spend his own money.

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Read 7 tweets
28 Sep
Some clear implications from the Trump Tax story:

- He blew through other people’s money. His dad’s. Then Mark Burnett’s. Plus loans.
- he starts blowing through the most money in 2011, when the known sources disappear.
- He had a new source of funds.

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- This new source had more money and seems to have put fewer restrictions on his spending.
- Only question for us as a nation: what is that new source of money?
- As I’ve written obsessively, 2011 is when he gets into business with the Mammadovs.

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- Soon after, he’s in business with the Agalarovs, flirting with Georgians and Kazakhs with ties to Putin.
- All of these groups are—between 2011 and 2016—known to be laundering money through golf courses.

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Read 5 tweets
27 Sep
Amazing reporting by @nytimes @susannecraig @russbuettner and @mmcintire on Trump's taxes

nytimes.com/interactive/20…

A few additional thoughts:

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@nytimes @susannecraig @russbuettner @mmcintire Everyone covering Trump's finances is aware of two things:
He is broke AND he is corrupt.
He is desperate and stupid.
This new reporting confirms the overall picture.

He is a stupid, unethical man who got a lot of dough from his dad...

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@nytimes @susannecraig @russbuettner @mmcintire And spend it foolishly.

When that dried up, he went overseas and did work with scoundrels nobody else would work with.

It is a shabby, pathetic story.

But it is also an important national security story.

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Read 4 tweets
25 Sep
Journalists at NPR, NYT, etc:

NOW is the time to talk with your editors.

You need to report accurately and fairly, even about harsh truths that one party (I'm thinking of the GOP) won't like.

Fight now. It will all come too fast to fight later.

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- Establish now which facts would lead you to report on accusations of voter fraud. They need to be very credible, backed by clear data and statistical significance.

- Establish now which election law experts and principles are quotable.

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You are going to have to make a lot of calls about what statements are amplified, what "facts" are reported.

If you make them in the heat of the moment, you'll end up defaulting to deference to position (the Secretary of State of TK state said...),

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Read 8 tweets
24 Sep
People who criticize NPR for being explicitly Republican or promoting some specific corporate or government agenda are missing it.

That's not the issue.

The issue is that NPR has internally defined a goal of "objectivity" that prizes ignoring ones own passions, views.

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It is a problem throughout journalism--as @jayrosen_nyu and others have articulated.

One that thinks there is some thing called "neutrality" that is a coherent goal and which has no crisis mode, when one side is just plain wrong.

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@jayrosen_nyu But the deeper issues at NPR have nothing to do with ideology or politics.

It is a profoundly inward-looking, bureaucratic, fearful, hierarchical culture that is nearly incapable of taking in outside information, reacting thoughtfully and boldly.

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Read 6 tweets
24 Sep
There has been a lot of criticism of NPR this week.

One interesting thing I've noted: when working inside of NPR, it is impossible to truly take in the criticism. It just doesn't happen.

But most who leave get it fully and all of a sudden. It's like the Matrix.

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Within NPR, many people recognize the core problems--bothsidism, cowardice masking as principle, being dull, little original enterprise reporting, conservative (small c) bureaucratic decision-making--but few, if any, can really see the full picture until they leave.

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And then they see it all at once.

It is a deep cultural problem at NPR. There are massive defenses against criticism, especially an internally-focused discussion that equates what is good for NPR stations as what is good for journalism and the country.

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Read 5 tweets
18 Sep
Thoughts on Michael Cohen:

He doesn't know the core financials of Trump Org. He was always hated and mocked by the people with real power--esp. Weisselberg but also Jason Greenblatt, George Sorial, Matt Calamari (all of whom should be more famous than they are).

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I went deep into one of Cohen's deals--the deal in Georgia--here:
newyorker.com/magazine/2017/…

It's a deal rife with screaming warning signs of possible money laundering and bank fraud.

Cohen truly knew nothing. He was the thuggish relationship guy, not the money guy.

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In his book, he seems to grasping for some kind of insight into Trump's core business, but he clearly doesn't get it. Because:
- He's not smart.
- He's not on the inside.
- He's not trusted or liked.
- He's stupid.

Compare him to George Sorial, ...
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Read 4 tweets
16 Sep
Celebrity chef @AdamPerryLang says he is cooperating with prosecutors on their Epstein investigations.

Um, he also told us that in his many years traveling with Epstein, he never saw anything suspicious.

Is he going to tell prosecutors the same?

podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/bro…

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@AdamPerryLang Epstein had many staff people, but Lang was one of a few who traveled to all the properties, flew on the plane, and directly interacted with guests.

We have several girls who remember him well. Some remember him seeing them naked.

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@AdamPerryLang Lang left Epstein to open a steakhouse in a strip club.

He left the strip club to work for Mario Batali when Batali was (according to many witnesses) sexually abusing women.

Adam Perry Lang has demonstrated remarkable comfort serving food alongside sexual abuse.

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Read 4 tweets
23 Jul
I think we're talking past each other.

These are anecdotal examples that don't support (or even address) the claim you made about mandatory education. And both that claim and these examples are contradicted by the poll you cite.

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So, I don't see a coherent view in your writing or in the Harper's letter or any of the other anti-"cancel" stuff. I don't know what each thing is worried about or what it wants to be different or what evidence it has.

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The things I'd want to see:

- A clear definition of a possible phenomenon. What it is and what it isn't.
- Some theory about how you would test the existence of that phenomenon.
- Some evidence that supports that theory.

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Read 5 tweets
23 Jul
Steven Pinker (inadvertently) reveals the emptiness of anti-cancel culture here:


He is so self-congratulatory about how he is a man of the enlightenment, using empirical data and argument to find truth.

Then makes up nonsense whole cloth.

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It is a perfect distillation of the core anti-"cancel" talking points:

1. Huge claims about the cancelers and how they represent a massive new shift in thinking. With no evidence, no data, no nothing.

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2. Amazing self-congratulation about how the anti-Canceler believes in evidence, argument, openness. Always done while simultaneously making up evidence-free claims and showing zero curiosity about the critiques they are dismissing as part of cancel culture.

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Read 7 tweets
22 Jul
Regular reminder to journalists and editors covering Trump:

ALL of his new business is in Scotland.

The Trump Org is a Scottish golf resort company.

If you don’t have reporters going to Scotland, investigating those businesses, than you are not covering Trump!
Yes, he does have a bunch of legacy pre-golf businesses and some interesting international franchise deals.

But the only new Trump-driven business for the last decade is in Scotland. It is the only place he’s claiming to put his own money.

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People spend time wondering about a Post-presidency Trump org. They think about a TV network.

But he has placed massive bets on Scotland. Put hundreds of millions (he says) into Scotland.

I believe it’s likely money-laundering.

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Read 4 tweets
20 Jul
Hot take: Trump is demonstrably far poorer than he claims.

Again: Scotland holds the key.

His audited UK financials show money-losing properties with arbitrarily inflated values with no tie to actual market conditions.

Those are his ONLY audited financials.

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So, three businesses that lose around 5 million pounds a year and have a collective value of, say, 70M pounds (being generous) are claimed to bring in 150 million pounds a year!

And, again, those are his MOST trustworthy numbers.

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All of his other financial claims have no constraint at all. They're just made up with no oversight.

My best guess: he got around $200M from dad and now has $150M or so, because he's bad at money and takes bad risks.

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Read 8 tweets
13 Jul
I put a bunch of documents--all public ones but rarely searched for--related to Trump's Scottish activity.

drive.google.com/drive/folders/…

It takes work and some research skill, but things you will find:
- Trump Intl Golf shows the finances for Aberden.

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- Then compare the New Aberdeen Menie folder for planning docs around that site--you see that Trump is claiming far more expense than he could possibly spend.

- The Turnberry docs are more messy, because of multiple owners.

- Clear takeaways:

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- Elaborate scheme to make money disappear.
- The golf resorts make zero sense as a business for anybody but especially for Trump--they require enormous upfront capital expense and a lot of patience.
- So what is the real goal here? Why all this work?

Open questions:
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Read 11 tweets
13 Jul
It is a bit strange to, simultaneously, promote my book/podcast/newsletter about how to thrive in the economy

AND

write so much about corruption and money laundering.

But they are part of THE SAME THING!

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To twitter-size and oversimplify:

There is (I believe) a fight between entrenched capital and the middle class.

For a bunch of reasons, the economy from ~1880-~1980 kept this balance in some sort of check. It was good for the rich and good for the middle.

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That system was destabilized by global trade, technology, dereg,

I happen to be for a version of all of these things. But the way they manifested was especially pro-capital/anti-labor/anti-middle.

This destabilizing triumverate can be pro-middle and pro-labor.

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Read 7 tweets
12 Jul
You might ask: why is that reporter who has a platform tweeting his investigations?

There is a view, among editors, that Trump biz isn’t worth covering:
- Everyone knows he’s corrupt.
- Those stories are confusing.
- It takes forever and has little impact.

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Also, money laundering investigations—by their nature—are circumstantial.
To make the full case that a specific illegal pool of money went to a specific front project, you need subpoena power.

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I’ve tried to interest editors and journalist friends everywhere.

Nobody disagrees or thinks this is benign. It just seems like a ton of work to come up with a complicated story nobody would read and that would confirm what we already know.

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Read 5 tweets