NEW YORK — Congressional investigators should keep asking questions about wiretaps at Trump Tower — but not only those that have consumed America’s attention for weeks.
Most lawmakers have focused on whether or not Obama ordered wiretaps of President Donald J. Trump’s phones at his high-rise Manhattan office and residence, as Trump has claimed.
Almost completely forgotten is what happened to Trump’s tenants in Apartments 63A and B, reportedly just below the president’s three-story penthouse in Trump Tower.
Vadim Trincher was indicted in April 2013, allegedly for helping to run an illicit betting ring for high rollers. Another 33 suspects, mainly from the former Soviet Union, were nabbed after an FBI dragnet discovered what then-U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, called “crimes including operating an illegal gambling business, money laundering, and extortion.” (Trump sacked Bharara on March 11, after he refused to resign, as had 45 other Obama-era U.S. attorneys when instructed do so by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This routine housecleaning parallels similar actions by presidents Clinton and Obama.)
According to an Associated Press news article from that April 16, “Assistant U.S. Attorney Harris Fischman told a U.S. magistrate judge in Manhattan that Vadim Trincher, 52, directed much of the international racketeering enterprise from his $5 million apartment at Trump Tower.
“From his apartment he oversaw what must have been the world’s largest sports book,” said Fischman. “He catered to millionaires and billionaires.”
“Trincher’s apartment is located directly below one owned by Donald Trump,” the AP noted, citing authorities. “Fischman said the government had a strong case against Trincher in part because of recorded conversations between Trincher and his customers captured for several months through a court-approved wiretap.”
Forbes similarly observed: “Prosecutors say that Trincher was caught on months of wiretap recordings threatening violence against gamblers who didn’t pay their debts.”
Several articles on this matter place Trincher’s residence immediately beneath President Trump’s Manhattan lair. Mother Jones called Trincher’s place “a Trump Tower apartment located directly below an apartment owned by Donald Trump.”
While Trincher inhabited apartments 63A and B, Trump’s home fills the top three levels of Trump Tower — floors 66 through 68. Perhaps congressional sleuths could sort out this anomaly.
At least one major Clinton/Obama crony became ensnared in this mess. New York financier Marc Lasry, co-founder of $10.7 billion Avenue Capital, donated lavishly to the Clintons, Obama, and Democrat campaign coffers. Lasry was on track to become Obama’s ambassador to France when, as the New York Post reported, “Lasry, 53, turned down the post only days after the White House asked the FBI to probe whether he was tied to anyone involved in the criminal enterprise, sources said.”
The Post continued:
“His name surfaced in FBI tapes probing the matter as a person who likes to play in exclusive high-stakes poker games, sources said.”
“I am very grateful to have been considered,” Lasry wrote his investors on April 23, 2013, regarding the ambassadorship, “but I would like to put the speculation to rest and let you know that I will be remaining at Avenue.”
The Post concluded:
“A source close to Clinton said, “Lasry loves playing cards. He played in a celebrity poker tournament for Clinton’s foundation.
“I can’t believe that Obama admits in a book that he snorted cocaine and yet Marc Lasry can’t be named ambassador to France because he played cards.”
Senators, House members, and journalists alike should seek answers to these questions:
Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor. William de Wolff provided research for this opinion piece.