While Donald Trump has continually lambasted the FBI for wiretapping his Trump Tower in New York—legally authorized by court orders as a result of the amount of organized crime activity taking place there—there is evidence that he had at least one condominium outfitted with audio and video bugs during its use by contestants on Trump’s NBC reality show, “The Apprentice.” Moreover, there are fears being expressed from informed quarters that Trump has been blackmailing individuals who have stayed at his Trump International Hotel, located in the Old Post Office building, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.
“The Apprentice” condominium in Trump Tower, which is where contestants lived communally during the taping of the show, as well as the mock Trump Organization “boardroom” set, were constructed and furnished by NBC and “The Apprentice” producer and Trump friend, Mark Burnett. The boardroom was patterned after the ornate chamber in the scene from the 1976 movie “Network,” in which Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, is chastised by Arthur Jensen, played by Ned Beatty, the chief executive of the parent of Union Broadcasting System (UBS), Communications Corporation of America (CCA). In fact, the actual offices of Donald Trump, prior to NBC’s free construction work, were described by visitors as consisting of chipped wooden furniture and the odor of stale food and farts.
Trump’s placing surveillance equipment inside his properties for blackmail purposes was not merely limited to the residential condo used by “The Apprentice.” Before the completion of Trump Tower in 1983, Trump permitted the mistress of the president of Local 282 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, John Cody to move into one of the finished condos. It is clear that Trump was blackmailing Cody. Cody was close to Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Gambino family chief Carlo Gambino. Cody was also close to Trump’s father, Fred Trump, Sr., the founder of the Trump real estate construction firm.
Salerno’s concrete companies, S & A Concrete Co. and Transit-Mix Concrete Corporation, provided the concrete for Trump Tower and Cody’s Teamsters truckers transported the concrete and other building materials to the Trump construction site. Shortly after Cody’s female “friend,” Austrian divorcee Verina Hixon, moved into her Trump Tower simplex, she complained to Cody about certain “electrical wiring” that Trump had installed in the unit. In addition, telephone workers showed up to “wire the phones” in Hixon’s condo.
Hixon insisted to Trump that the telephone lines go to the building’s central switchboard. Fearing a blackmail double cross by Trump against Hixon, Cody, who was sentenced to prison in November 1982 on federal racketeering charges, pressured Trump in calls from prison to remove all the problematic “wiring” from Hixon’s unit. Cody also convinced Trump to re-wire Hixon’s phone lines to the central switchboard. Cody also ensured that some Teamsters construction heavies personally oversaw the re-wiring operation. Cody was particularly wary of bugs and he had installed bug detection devices on his phones and required pat downs of his visitors for listening devices. The FBI considered Cody a hard fish to catch because of his anti-wiretapping countermeasures.
According to Cody’s son Michael Cody, in an interview with The Daily Beast, Trump was a “pussy.” Cody said, “Trump was a guy who would talk tough, but as soon as you confronted him, he would cry like a little girl.”
In a November 21 tweet from Noel Casler, who worked as a talent handler on “The Apprentice” for six years and in a similar role for Trump beauty pageants, he stated: “I can [sic] help but think there’s been a steady stream of sex workers in Trump Hotel DC for the last 4 years collecting kompromat on all the GOP dudes kissing his ring. He collected it at the Plaza & Trump Props for decades. He will use it to continue to wield power.” Casler broke a Trump Organization non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to inform the public about Trump’s various criminal deeds, including his alleged placing surveillance equipment in rooms at the Trump Plaza and Trump Tower in New York and other Trump properties.
It should be recalled that Trump’s dirty tricks operative, Roger Stone, obtained personal information on New York’s former Democratic Governor, Eliot Spitzer, conducting a tryst with female sex escort Ashley Dupré, aka “Kristen,” at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in 2008. Stone is both dirty and adept enough to maximize the use of any blackmailable video and audio surveillance of Trump hotels and other properties, including Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. It is also germane that Jared Kushner’s father, ex-con Charles Kushner, paid a hooker to have a tryst in a Red Bull Inn motel room in Bridgewater, New Jersey with William Schulder, Kushner’s brother-in-law and Jared’s uncle, to blackmail him with a secret videotape of the encounter. Kushner efforts were unsuccessful and Schulder did testify against Kushner in his federal corruption trial. U.S. Attorney Chris Christie added jury tampering to the charges against Kushner.
Al Kamen, in an interview with Donald Trump that was published in The Washington Post’s January 23, 2000 “Sunday In the Loop” column, said Trump tipped his hand on blackmailing politicians who had stayed at his hotels. Trump, who was pushing his newly-released book, “The America We Deserve,” and floating his idea of a presidential run, revealed the following to Kamen: “I happen to know that one U.S. senator leading the pack of attackers spent more than a few nights with his twenty-something girlfriend at a hotel I own. There’s also a conservative columnist, married, who was particularly rough on Clinton in this regard. He also brought his girlfriend to my resorts for the weekend.” Trump was then supportive of President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal and his subsequent impeachment.
Kamen asked Trump, “Who might we be talking about here?” Trump replied, “My lips are permanently sealed,” declaring that he was not even going to offer hints or any information about how he knew about the trysts of the senator and columnist. Trump added, “all these folks are lucky it’s me, and not someone less discreet.” Understanding the gist of what Trump was alluding to, as far as blackmailing the senator and columnist was concerned, Kamen ended the item with, “When you check in, smile for the camera?” Trump’s comment that the senator in question was a Clinton attacker means that the individual was a conservative Republican. In the interview with Kamen, Trump was extremely critical of Clinton attacker, Senator Bob Smith (R-NH). Trump, already upset with his Senate Judiciary Committee grilling of Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, during her confirmation hearing for a federal judgeship, said Smith was “inarticulate, unqualified, and, according to several members I know, about the dumbest guy in the U.S. Senate.”
The Old Post Office has its own history as a center for wiretapping. The Washington Field Office of the FBI was, for years, located inside the Post Office building. There is an old story that floated around Washington that the famous polar explorer, Admiral Richard E. Byrd, after falling out of grace with President Harry Truman and Defense Secretary James Forrestal in 1947, was shuffled from his office at the Washington Navy Yard to a small office inside the Old Post Office building. Byrd decided to roam around the building one day and discovered another office door was ajar. He entered the office to find the central hub of the FBI’s phone wiretapping operation in the nation’s capital. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover warned Byrd not to talk about his discovery. Byrd ignored Hoover.
Spying on hotel guests in their rooms is against the law in a number of states. Hotel rooms are considered places where there is an expectation of privacy. The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), which represents some 80 percent of hotel and motel chains, said it is not the practice of its members to install cameras in guest rooms. The Trump Organization is not listed among the largest hotel chains listed on AHLA’s website. Only thirteen states currently have laws preventing the video surveillance of hotel and motel guest rooms and they do not include New York, Florida, or the District of Columbia, the locations of the Trump hotels reportedly conducting video surveillance of certain guest rooms.
It will be incumbent on the Biden administration to conduct a major technical support countermeasure (TSCM) sweep for surveillance bugs of the White House, the Old Executive Office Building, and Blair House, not to mention the executive offices of all the Cabinet-level departments and agencies, after it takes over power on January 20. Until then, Biden officials should refrain from discussing matters of utmost confidentiality in offices and conference rooms that have not been swept for audio and video surveillance beforehand.
The Biden administration should also immediately fire as general counsel for the National Security Agency former Representative Devin Nunes staffer Michael Ellis. Trump moved Ellis to the NSA to burrow him into the top electronic surveillance agency of the U.S. government, where he can conduct surreptitious surveillance on Biden administration’s officials’ offices, residences, and communications. Ellis is in a senior career government position, not subject to Senate confirmation. The worst-case scenario is that Ellis will serve as a backchannel on NSA operations to his old boss, Nunes, who remains a member of the House Intelligence Committee. It is also significant that NSA Director, General Paul Nakasone, was adamantly opposed to Ellis becoming the agency’s chief counsel.
Another reason for Ellis’s quick firing by the Biden administration is that he now has access to one of NSA’s most intrusive surveillance operations, ROYAL CONCIERGE, which is jointly conducted with Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to conduct surveillance at over 350 hotels around the world. ROYAL CONCIERGE spies on hotel bookings, and when it discovers that diplomatic and other government delegations, as well as corporate executives, have booked rooms in a particular hotel, additional measures are taken to “prepare” selected rooms for more intrusive surveillance. By getting rid of Ellis from the NSA, Biden can kill off a critical backchannel between the NSA and Nunes.
Recent frequent guests at the Trump hotel in DC have included Trump lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; Florida Representative Matt Gaetz; Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Georgia Democratic State Representative Vernon Jones; ex-con and former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik; actor Jon Voight; Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; Alabama Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee; MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell; White House chief of staff Mark Meadows; former Trump ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell; Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus; former Wisconsin Representative Sean Duffy; and Ohio Representative Jim Jordan.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).