Trump Biographer Accuses Candidate of Being Connected To Cocaine-Dealing Criminals

By Keri Blakinger 08/30/16

David Cay Johnston highlighted Trump's alleged connection to “Russian mobsters, con artists, violent felons, swindlers, and this big time cocaine trafficker” on CNN.

Trump Biographer Accuses Candidate of Being Connected To Cocaine-Dealing Criminals
David Cay Johnston Photo via YouTube

He’s branded as a racist, sexist liar—and according to one writer, Donald Trump may be in bed with big-time drug dealers and other criminals. 

David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, delved into the Donald’s shady past in his biography of the GOP candidate, The Making of Donald Trump. On Saturday, he took to the airwaves to share his findings with CNN’s Michael Smerconish. 

As soon as the segment started, Johnston moved right in for the kill. “Donald got his personal helicopter and the one for his casinos from a convicted felon who turned out to be a major drug trafficker, and instead of cutting ties with this guy, he kept him on, he rented him an apartment under very unusual circumstances as I described in the book,” said Johnston. 

“He wrote a letter pleading for mercy for him, saying he was a standup guy. The guy got 18 months while the people who actually delivered the drugs for him got 20 years. And, by the way, the case came before at one point Judge Maryanne Trump Barry—Donald’s older sister.”

The “standup guy” in question is Joseph Weichselbaum, according to Raw Story. The con’s connection to the controversial conservative has been detailed before—more recently by The Smoking Gun, but also more than two decades ago in Spy magazine and in a book by journalist Wayne Barrett.

Weichselbaum worked for a Trump-connected helicopter company back in the '80s, but in 1985 he was charged with trafficking blow and pot across state lines. As his case was winding its way through the court system, Weichselbaum started staying at Trump Plaza, paying the bill with his helicopter service, according to Slate. Then, because his address had changed, his case was transferred from Ohio to New Jersey, where Trump’s sister was the judge. She handed off the case to another judge and Trump wrote a reference letter begging for leniency, despite his friend’s well-documented history of criminal exploits.

“At the time Trump wrote his character reference letter, Weichselbaum, then in his mid-40s, was already a twice-convicted felon,” according to The Smoking Gun. “In addition to his 1986 plea to federal cocaine distribution and income tax charges, Weichselbaum’s rap sheet included prior convictions for grand theft auto and the embezzlement of more than $130,000 from a Brooklyn manufacturing firm where he worked for a decade.”

In the end, Trump’s helicopter buddy ended up doing only about 18 months behind bars.

As Johnston contended Saturday, though, the possible shady connections haven’t really been explored that much in the media—his drug ties certainly haven’t faced the scrutiny of his rival’s emailing habits.

“There has been virtually nothing outside of my book about Donald’s lifelong business dealings with Russian mobsters, con artists, violent felons, swindlers, and this big-time cocaine trafficker,” he said.


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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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