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Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Alexander Shnaider, a Russian-Canadian developer who partnered with Trump to build the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Toronto, used hundreds of millions of dollars that can be traced back to Vnesheconombank (VEB), a Russian government-run bank under investigation in the U.S., to help finance the project, reports the WSJ.

Why this matters: A Trump Organization spokesman told the WSJ that the company had no financial dealings with VEB. Trump has also repeatedly stated that he has no ties to Russia. Meanwhile, federal investigators are looking into the links between Trump's staff and Russian financial institutions. This all comes as Trump has been under fire for sharing Israeli intelligence with top Russian officials.

The breakdown:

  1. Midland Resources, a holding company then owned by Shnaider and a partner, acquired a stake in Zaporizhstal, a Ukranian steel mill, for roughly $70 million after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
  2. In 2010, Shnaider and his partner sold Midland Resources' stake in the steel mill for roughly $850 million to an unnamed buyer, who used funds from VEB to make the purchase.Midland Resources transferred ownership of its share to the unknown investor through 5 offshore companies"Two people with knowledge of the deal" told the WSJ that the buyer was "an entity acting for the Russian government" and that VEB initiated the sell and financed the purchase.
  3. Shnaider, now hundreds of millions of dollars richer, used about $15 million to help finance The Trump Toronto Hotel, which in turn paid licensing fees to Donald Trump.

The Putin link: At the time Shnaider sold his stake in the steelmaker, Vladimir Putin was serving as the chairman of VEB's supervisory board. As the WSJ points out, any major deals would have needed his approval first. The U.S. later sanctioned the bank after Russia invaded Ukraine and occupied Crimea in 2014.

The Jared Kushner link: Trump's son-in-law met with VEB's chairman in December. Sean Spicer said Kushner was simply fulfilling his role as the "primary point of contact with foreign government officials."

Go deeper

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President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

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President Trump tweeted Tuesday a threat to veto a must-pass end-of-year $740 billion bill defense-spending authorization bill unless Congress repeals a federal law that protects social media sites from legal liability.

Why it matters: Trump's attempt to get Congress to end the tech industry protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is the latest escalation in his war on tech giants over what he and some other Republicans perceive as bias against conservatives.

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