Donald Trump, with his affectation for Eastern European models during the Cold War, should have registered with the FBI early on as a potential spy for America’s enemies. Czechoslovak State Security (ŠtB) certainly believed that to be the case when they tripled their efforts to ensure that their two assets, Ivana Zelníčková and her father, Miloš Zelníček, applied a full-court press on Trump beginning in 1976 when Ivana first met Trump. A year later, ŠtB asset Ivana Zelníčková married Trump. The first Mrs. Trump and Warsaw Pact intelligence asset worked her way into top-level executive jobs in the Trump Organization, including president of the Trump Castle Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, later becoming the manager of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. These positions and her marriage to Donald Trump gave Ivana, and the ŠtB and, by default, the Soviet KGB, important access to the movers and shakers of American politics, business, and media. Ivana Trump, the mother of Donald Trump, Jr., Eric, and Ivanka, would continue to have access to her ex-husband and his business and political operations long after their divorce in 1992. These benefits included her use of Mar-a-Lago for one month a year pursuant to her divorce settlement with Donald.
It is Ivana’s continued use of Mar-a-Lago that makes her sudden death on July 14, 2022, at the age of 73, from blunt impact injuries to the torso after falling down stairs at her home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan all the more suspicious considering what occurred on August 8, the day the FBI showed up at the front entrance to Mar-a-Lago. It was some three weeks after Ivana’s “fall” down the stairs that the FBI conducted its search and seizure of highly-classified documents illegally retained by Trump at Mar-a-Lago. The documents reportedly included the identities of U.S. intelligence assets. The FBI is said to have had an informant close to Trump within the Mar-a-Lago organization.
Although Ivana and Donald maintained a business relationship after their divorce, Trump was reticent about giving her a position within his administration. In a post-2016 election interview with The New York Post, Ivana stated, “I will suggest that I be ambassador for the Czech Republic . . . I’m known by the name Ivana. I really did not need the name Trump.” She bolstered her diplomatic credentials by stressing that she spoke fluent Czech. Ivana’s mother, Marie Zelnickova, who, at the age of 96, continues to live in the city of Zlin, once named after Czechoslovak Communist Party boss Klement Gottwald, continued to have nice things to say about her ex-son-in-law and father of her three grandchildren. She told a Czech newspaper after Trump’s 2016 election, “Donik is the nicest person in the world.” Milos Zelníček, who died in 1990, maintained a close relationship with his grandson, Donald Trump, Jr., becoming a surrogate father for the boy during a time when Donald Trump rarely spent time with his children, with the exception of Ivanka.
The Czechoslovakia to which Donald Trump grew increasingly close was governed by a hardline Communist regime that came to power after the 1968 Soviet invasion of the country that was prompted by the “Prague Spring” of reformist Czechoslovak leader Alexander Dubček. Replacing Dubček was Stalinist Communist party boss Gustav Husak. The ŠtB became one of the KGB’s most loyal Soviet bloc intelligence agencies and Zelníček was a prized asset with family ties to one of New York’s most influential businessmen. Rather than affiliate with the Czechoslovak opposition headed by jailed dissident and the first post-Communist president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, and his Charter 77 movement, Trump opted to back the dictatorship of Husak. In contrast, Presidents Carter and Reagan gave their backing to Charter 77. Trump’s father, Fred Trump, Sr., certainly had no issue with his son’s close relationship to the Communist bloc. After all, he had promoted the regime of Adolf Hitler in Germany and may have played an even greater role in advancing the interests of the Nazis in Europe and America.
The ŠtB was so loyal to Moscow that the KGB opted to use it rather than their own agents in Soviet influence operations. While Soviets were generally distrusted in many nations, the presence of large Czech and Slovak immigrant communities in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Britain, and Australia made the ŠtB a natural choice for Moscow. The ŠtB scored a major victory when they successfully saw one of their agents, Karl (Karel) Koecher, be hired by the CIA as a contractor from 1973 to 1975. Koecher had been recommended for employment at the CIA by his professor at Columbia University, one Zbigniew Brzezinski, who would later become national security adviser under Jimmy Carter. One of Koecher’s most important tasks was to evaluate the intelligence from a CIA mole in the Global Affairs Department of the Soviet Foreign Ministry in Moscow named Aleksander Ogorodnik. According to the author of the book “KGB Today,” John Barron (coincidentally, an alias that would later be used by Donald Trump), Ogorodnik was one of the most valuable U.S. spies in the Soviet Union. Ogorodnik was compromised in 1977 when the KGB caught him photographing classified documents.
In 1976, the year Donald Trump was first introduced to Ivana, Koecher and his wife, Hana, moved into a luxury apartment at 50 East 89th Street in Manhattan. Their neighbors in the building included Mel Brooks and his actress wife Anne Bancroft, Czechoslovak tennis star Ivan Lendl, and dancer Tommy Tune. Hana secured a job at Savion Diamonds, Inc. in Manhattan’s diamond district. Later, the company’s owner, Joseph Savion, formed another firm with Hana Koecher called Novissa Corporation. Savion Diamonds and Novissa were dissolved after the fall of the Communist government in Czechoslovakia in the early 1990s.
The Koechers had not chosen their apartment to merely say hello in the morning to celebrities. They had specific tasking from the ŠtB: penetrate Manhattan’s and Washington’s upper crust of society via invitations to sex orgies and swingers parties, including those of participating CIA agents and their wives in northern Virginia, to gain access with blackmail potential to the movers and shakers of American society. The 1970s and early 80s were the halcyon days of swingers clubs and call girl and call boy rings in New York and Washington. In New York, the Koechers would often go to the notorious swingers club Plato’s Retreat, where Trump national security adviser John Bolton often took his very reluctant wife in the 1980s. Roger Stone often frequented another Manhattan swingers club called La Trapeze. It featured a naked food buffet with the proviso that members’ lower torsos had to be covered while in the food line.
The Koechers joined one swingers club called the Virginia In-Club. The club, owned by the president of a northern Virginia real estate company, had rented a seven-bedroom suburban house in Fairfax, Virginia. Among the 200 or so couples who were members were a U.S. senator, an assistant Secretary of Commerce, a senior administrator of the Smithsonian Institution, an economist at the Treasury Department, a reporter for The Washington Post who gained notoriety covering the Watergate scandal, another prominent reporter for The New York Times, a female assistant in the Carter White House, and, most importantly for the Koechers, a senior executive of the CIA said to have been John Paisley, a retired deputy director of the Office of Strategic Assessment at Langley. In 1978, Paisley’s body was found floating in the Chesapeake Bay with a gunshot wound to the head. Although Paisley had retired from the CIA in 1974, like Koecher, he remained as a contractor. At the time of his death, Paisley was rumored to have been assigned the duty of frequenting DC’s sex club circuit to ferret out KGB moles like the Koechers.
Another swingers club called the Swinging Gate was located in Jessup, Maryland, not far from the headquarters of the then-super secret National Security Agency. Its parties featured a pair of bisexual midgets from Baltimore and porn actors and actresses from New York. But it was at a DC swingers club called Capitol Couples where the Koechers may have hit pay dirt. One of the “regulars” at Capitol Couples sex parties was Roger Stone, a close friend of Donald Trump and Trump’s infamous attorney, Roy Cohn. Capitol Couples, unlike other Washington area swingers clubs, was “off-premises.” The club had no fixed address but would hold meet-ups at various bars in downtown DC, particularly The Exchange on G Street, just a few steps from the White House. The Capitol Couples also frequented, until it closed in 1985, the Class Reunion on H Street, also near the White House. Another bar where the swingers would meet was Marigold’s.
“The Class” or “CR” as it was known to regulars—like journalists such as the Boston Globe’s Tom Oliphant, The Washington Post’s Joe Mastrangelo and Mark Shields, CBS News’s Terry Smith, The Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Reidy, Los Angeles Times reporter Jack Nelson, and CR bartender-turned-Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Daley—was principally owned by Thomas McKeon. A former NSA employee, McKeon also happened to have been the vice president of Intertel (International Intelligence Inc.), billed at the time as the world’s largest private intelligence-gathering network. The firm’s ranks included former FBIA, CIA and IRS agents. Intertel’s president was Robert Dolan Peloquin, a former Naval Intelligence officer, Department of Justice investigator, and chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force in Buffalo. He had as a member of his board of directors Sir Randolph Bacon, a former commissioner of Scotland Yard and director of Interpol, and M.F.A. Lindsay, a former commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. With its headquarters in a building on H Street, Intertel was smack in the middle of Washington’s power centers. Intertel was owned by Resorts International, a casino and hotel firm with ties to the CIA that was briefly owned by Donald Trump before he sold it in 1988 to Merv Griffin.
For the Koechers “insider” bars like the CR, which also hosted quiet and informal Capitol Couples get- togethers, were gold mines of opportunities for espionage agents. It was at the CR where reporters once drank with staffers of CREEP—Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President—that served as one of the nexuses of the Watergate scandal. Also frequenting the CR were such DC notables as Carter Press Secretary Jody Powell, Ronald Reagan Press Secretary James Brady, Vice President Spiro Agnew former aide and Press Secretary Vic Gold, and Nixon White House assistant Dwight Chapin. After showing up at the CR or The Exchange, the Koechers would repair to Capitol Couples sex parties at either the homes of members or, on special occasions, nearby downtown hotel suites.
After their 1984 arrest, the Koechers were swapped in 1986 for Soviet Jewish dissident Anatoly Shcharansky, aka Natan Sharansky. The person who signed off on the deal was none other than the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan, one Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani had offered Karl Koecher immunity in exchange for the information he possessed. Information on whom? Donald and Ivana Trump? Trump’s gay and accused pederast attorney, Roy Cohn? Two questions linger. With Ivana Trump’s ties to the ŠtB, had the Trumps been top targets or assets of the Koechers, particularly given Donald Trump’s sexual proclivities involving underage girls? Were Stone and Nydia, his second wife, who had been a White House photographer for Richard Nixon, involved with Donald and his second wife, Marla Maples, in New York swinging activity? In 1996, GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole, unceremoniously fired Stone as a campaign aide after it was disclosed that the Stones were regulars at Capitol Couples orgies. The Stones standard personal ad in swingers’ magazines read: “Hot, insatiable lady and her handsome body builder husband, experienced swingers, seek similar couples or exceptional muscular well-hung single men. She’s 40DD-24-36; he’s 195, trim, blonde, muscular and 8′ +. Prefer military, bodybuilders, jocks. No smokers or fats please. Photo and phone required. R&N . . .We are interested in DC, VA. MD, NYC, Miami, and LA.” Stone once invited CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin to interview him at a Miami swingers club called Miami Velvet. The choice of the venue in light of Toobin later being seen masturbating during a Zoom video conference is even more ironic.
Donald and Marla had attended Roger Stone’s and Nydia’s DC wedding in 1992. It is noteworthy that Karl Koecher, KGB code named Rino, Turin, and Pedro, was arrested by FBI agents outside of the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, owned at the time by Donald Trump. One thing Mr. Trump has demonstrated time and time again is that with him, there are no coincidences.
One influential intelligence-linked Czech emigré was publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, whose daughter, Ghislaine, worked her way into the most elite circles in New York and London. Among her close friends were the billionaire with whom she would later be charged in connection with an international underage sex trafficking ring, Jeffrey Epstein. The society pages of New York’s newspapers and magazines were replete with photos at soirees featuring Donald and Ivana Trump, Robert and Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein, and other notables. Robert Maxwell was strongly rumored to be a triple and even a quadruple intelligence agent, variably offering his services to Britain’s MI-6, the KGB, Mossad, and his native country’s ŠtB. Ian Robert Maxwell, an adopted name, had used two aliases, along with his birth name, Jan Ludwik Hoch. His aliases were Ivan du Maurier and Leslie Jones. Aliases are always a telltale sign of either an intelligence agent, a crook, or both. It should be kept in mind that Donald Trump has also used at least three aliases, John Barron (also spelled Baron), John Miller, and David Dennison. As with Donald Trump and his over 500 corporate artifices, many bearing the name of Trump. Maxwell’s media empire consisted of a virtual maze of hundreds of interconnecting companies having confusingly similar names.
Maxwell’s suspicious death at age 68 on November 5, 1991 was treated with the same amount of suspicion as were the deaths of Epstein in the federal detention center in Manhattan in 1991 and Ivana Trump’s in the stairwell of her Upper East Side apartment. Maxwell died while aboard his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine—named for his daughter—as it cruised off Tenerife in the Canary Islands. The yacht was later purchased by Anna Murdoch, then the wife of Rupert Murdoch. Its name is currently the Dancing Hare.
After Trump’s election in 2016, one person who championed Trump naming his ex-wife as ambassador to Prague was the pro-Vladimir Putin Czech President, Milos Zeman. Anyone heading the U.S. embassy in the Czech capital would have had access to classified State Department cables concerning NATO, the U.S. military presence in eastern and central Europe, and the identities of U.S. intelligence agents in the Czech Republic and neighboring countries. It appears that some quarters within the Trump circle, maybe even Trump himself, feared what might be discovered on Ivana if she were subjected to the normal security background investigation conducted on ambassadorial nominees prior to Senate confirmation.
The children of American presidents have never been immune to detailed examinations of their business dealings. Hunter Biden and Chelsea Clinton prove that fact. However, the Trump children constantly complain when they are subjected to close scrutiny. Donald Trump Jr.’s relationship with his grandfather, someone whose file as an asset for the ŠtB was released after the fall of the Communist government in Prague, does merit a close examination, particularly in light of the illegal amassing of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. In October 2016, just a few weeks prior to his father’s election, Donald, Jr. spoke at the Paris Ritz Hotel before a conference organized by the obscure Center of Political and Foreign Affairs (CPFA). Trump, Jr. received $50,000 for his appearance in Paris. Run by French businessman Fabien Baussart, CPFA, which has adopted the off-the-record Chatham House rules for meeting participants, has curried favor with the governments of countries where he is invested in media operations. These include Russia, Kazakhstan, and pro-Russian sectors of Ukraine. CPFA is also known to be close to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. CPFA has been described as a lobbying “intelligence exchange” for Russian intelligence. It is also noteworthy that Baussart proposed to the Nobel Committee that Putin receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Baussart’s Syrian-born wife, Randa Kassis, is close to the Assad government and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
There is a possibility that the CIA or a foreign intelligence service friendly to the United States picked up a copy of a highly-classified U.S. intelligence document at any one of hundreds of “intelligence exchanges” like the CPFA in Paris. All that would be required then would have been to trace the document’s discrete machine identification code back to a printer inside the White House, particularly if it were located inside one of the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities (SCIFs), and was later found to have been illegally stored at Mar-a-Lago. Such a scenario would have been enough to set off alarm bells throughout the U.S. Intelligence Community and the FIVE EYES network of Western allied intelligence services.
A few days after the FBI executed its search or Mar-a-Lago, Russia’s Channel 1 network reported as factual or in jest that Russian intelligence had already been “studying” the classified documents, including Top Secret files related to U.S. nuclear weapons, that were seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago.
If even five percent of what Russian media has reported is fact-based, Donald Trump has the potential to rival other American spies in the degree of damage done to U.S. national security. Trump would most certainly live in infamy with the recent others who sold out their country to its enemies and adversaries. Unfortunately for the United States, the list is a long one—the FBI’s Robert Hanssen, Earl Pitts, and Richard Miller; the CIA’s Aldrich Ames, David Barnett, Harold Nicholson, Larry Wu-Tai Chin, and William Kampiles; the National Security Agency’s Ronald Pelton and David Boone; the Navy’s John Walker and Jonathan Pollard; the Army’s Peter Debbins, Ben-Ami Kadish, and George Trofimoff; and NASA’s Stewart Nozette. Although hundreds of Americans have been caught spying for other nations, the list does not include any occupants of the Oval Office. That situation may soon change.
There remains only one major question for “Donik.” Since Trump’s circle of acquaintances over the years has included notorious spies and sex blackmailers, where does that place Trump in the world of espionage against the United States? We know that Trump has stolen the nation’s most sensitive secrets, but for how long has this gone on?
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).