Roger Tagholm


Penguin Random House (PRH) imprint Transworld is to publish a book that suggests Donald Trump was “successfully targeted” by Russian operatives connected to the Russian Mafia in order to implant a Russian asset in the White House to help President Putin.

House of Trump, House of Putin is by Craig Unger, author of the controversial House of Bush, House of Saud which the then Random House UK pulled out of publishing in 2004 because of fears of legal action.

In the US, its publisher Dutton (also part of PRH) is heralding it as the first comprehensive investigation into the decades-long relationship among Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, and the Russian Mafia that ultimately helped win Trump the White House”.

The book talks about “Vladimir Putin’s long mission to undermine Western democracy, a mission that he and his hand-selected group of oligarchs and Mafia kingpins had ensnared Trump in, starting more than twenty years ago with the massive bailout of a string of sensational Trump hotel and casino failures in Atlantic City. This book confirms the most incredible American paranoias about Russian malevolence”.

The book asserts that the Cold War did not end in 1991, but merely evolved, with Trump’s apartments offering the perfect vehicle for billions of dollars to leave the collapsing Soviet Union.  “In House of Trump, House of Putin, Craig Unger methodically traces the deep-rooted alliance between the highest echelons of American political operatives and the biggest players in the frightening underworld of the Russian Mafia. He traces Donald Trump’s sordid ascent from foundering real estate tycoon to leader of the free world. He traces Russia’s phoenixlike rise from the ashes of the post–Cold War Soviet Union as well as its ceaseless covert efforts to retaliate against the West and reclaim its status as a global superpower.”

The publisher continues: “Without Trump, Russia would have lacked a key component in its attempts to return to imperial greatness. Without Russia, Trump would not be president. This essential book is crucial to understanding the real powers at play in the shadows of today’s world.”

At PRH in New York, Ritsuko Okumura, Associate Director for Subsidiary Rights, said she would be looking at selling Arabic rights in due course.  “The book is under embargo, so we’ll be soliciting offers when we publish on August 14. So far rights have sold to the UK (Transworld), Germany (Ullstein/Econ), Holland (Het Spectrum), Italy (La Nave di Teseo) and Denmark (Gads). These sales were made on the original proposal before the book was placed under embargo.”

It will be interesting to see if Trump takes legal action in the UK.  Back in 2004, Unger’s House of Bush, House of Saud became a victim of the UK’s different libel laws.  In the US, the legal test is that the plaintiff has to prove the defendant has actual malice to win. In the UK, the test is the defendant has to prove the truth of what he or she is saying.

Random House UK pulled out of publishing Craig Unger’s House of Bush, House of Saud for this reason.  The book did eventually find a UK publisher, the independent Gibson Square, but changes were made before it appeared.  Transworld will obviously have had the manuscript checked by their legal team – but with the mercurial nature of the White House incumbent who knows what might happen.