On her MSNBC show ‘s opening segment last night, host Rachel Maddow connected the dots between the Trump organization and a toxic chromium mine if the land locked country of Kazakhstan.
“This is chromium, atomic number 24,” Maddow noted at the beginning of her show. “You need chromium to make stainless steel, it’s a useful, necessary thing in modern life. Mining and processing it, though, tend to be very, very toxic enterprises.”
“Mark Champion at Bloomberg News just did a report on how toxic and dire the conditions are at that facility, but he also got the simple sad story of the finances of that place, and how the finances of that place — that produces a third of the chromium in the world — ended up connected to the President of the United States.”
By Mark Champion, Bloomberg News
Green smoke paints the landscape on the outskirts of Aktobe, the hub of a Central Asian mining empire that produces a third of the world’s chromium — the essential ingredient in stainless steel.
Locals say that the air gets so bad in summer it’s hard to breathe. Industrial waste contaminates the groundwater.
All of this starts at the Aktyubinsk Chromium Chemicals Plant (AZXS), a Nikita Khrushchev-era complex. It shares an industrial zone with a vast smelting plant; together, they have yielded lavish private wealth since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
In one sense, it’s a familiar snapshot of post-Soviet capitalism: state assets bought for a song, workers saying they were cheated out of shares and connected businessmen getting wildly rich.
This story, however, carves a path from near Kazakhstan’s northern border with Russia to the offshore financial centers of the Caribbean, to London and all the way to Trump property in Midtown Manhattan.
How and why funds from former Soviet states flowed into Trump-branded real estate has been the focus of speculation since the start of the 2016 presidential campaign. One theory, propounded by opponents of President Donald Trump is that his admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin comes down to money, a suggestion Trump has forcefully denied.
Still, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is digging into Trump’s business dealings, and the scramble for Kazakhstan’s chromium riches may fill in a piece of that puzzle. Company records, court filings and interviews in Kazakhstan and London suggest millions of dollars from the Aktobe plant wound their way to the U.S. and a development company with which Trump partnered to build a controversial Trump SoHo hotel-condominium complex in Manhattan.