One year ago, President Donald Trump, in his final 2016 campaign commercial, denounced the global “power structure” that “robbed our working class” and gave away U.S. wealth to “a handful of large corporations and political entities.”

He didn’t happen to mention the offshore tax havens of his backers and appointees-to-be.

Now comes the explosive release of the so-called Paradise Papers — 13.4 million leaked files, mostly from a leading offshore law firm called Appleby. These files reveal the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people and firms, presented through the nonprofit International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Among them: no less than 13 prominent Trump donors, advisers and Cabinet members.

One is Long Island’s Robert Mercer — the multibillionaire who just last Thursday announced his departure as CEO of Suffolk-based Renaissance Technologies.

The Appleby files show Mercer listed as a director on eight RennTech subsidiaries, all in Bermuda. As described by The Guardian, which took part in the consortium’s research, a Mercer charitable foundation legally avoided tax liabilities in establishing a war chest for right-wing causes.

Bill Parish, an investment adviser and expert in this avoidance method, told The Guardian: “This is simple but ingenious. You take retirement plans or foundations, you invest them in a hedge fund, and even if the value rises 100 percent, you can sell off the investments with no tax consequences.”

Among those supported in this manner was Trump guru and Mercer ally Steve Bannon, who published the 2015 campaign-related book “Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer.

That book launched news stories accusing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of trading favors for donations to her family’s charitable foundation — such as the disputed tale of how a uranium company was sold to Russia.

Those stories have recently been recycled as Trump and his circle face mounting scrutiny over their own Russian connections.

Until recently, the Mercers also backed reactionary provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Barely three days before documents from the Paradise Papers began appearing on the internet and in the news media, the publicity shy Mercer announced he’d leave as RennTech’s CEO and board member. He also said he’d sell the Bannon-led Breitbart News, which propagates items in political sync with the so-called alt-right.

Unexpectedly, Mercer issued the most expansive statement yet attributed to him.

“I have great respect for Mr. Bannon,” it said in part, “and from time to time I do discuss politics with him. However I make my own decisions with respect to whom I support politically. Those decisions do not always align with Mr. Bannon’s.”

He also expressed regret for his past support of Yiannpoulos, who departed Breitbart after making comments that appeared to condone pedophilia.

Another member of the Trump troupe who turns up in the Paradise Papers is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Ross is a longtime investor in a shipping company, Navigator Holdings, which has a major oil client, Sibur, which is partly owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law.

Over the next few days, more details are expected to be described and fleshed out.

None of this will make the Trump White House look populistic.


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