PoliticsSupreme Court


No, Money Laundering Does Not Appear To Be Why Justice Kennedy Retired

A website used a largely true set of information to make a claim that's totally false. So what's what?
Posted at 6:38 PM, Jul 19, 2018

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's pending retirement has a lot of people wondering why he's leaving the bench. One false theory got some traction — his son's old job got him in trouble.

An article on clickbait site Kwotable claimed Kennedy quit because he and his son helped President Donald Trump launder Russian money through Deutsche Bank.

Ultimately, that's totally not true, but there is a lot of truth to the backstory here that might make someone think it is.

For starters, Kennedy's son, Justin Kennedy, used to work at Deutsche Bank. He was the bank's head of real estate capital markets. He oversaw major real estate loans, including multiple loans to Trump.

And in the 1990s, after several bankruptcies, Trump found a lot of banks unwilling to do business with him. Deutsche was. Over about the next two decades, Deutsche offered Trump more than $4 billion in loan commitments and potential bonds, according to The New York Times.

On top of all that, Deutsche does have some well-documented connections to Russia. Between 2010 and 2014, it was reportedly involved in an operation that allowed more than $20 billion to flow from Russia to other parts of the world. And the U.S. Department of Justice fined the bank hundreds of millions for failing to stop a different Russian money-laundering scheme.

But there is absolutely no evidence to date that suggest Trump was at all involved in money laundering at Deutsche, or that the money Deutsche lent him was in any way connected to Russia. Plus, the major Russia-linked scandals reportedly happened after Justin Kennedy left the bank.

So the Kennedy and Trump families might have a history, but it's not a criminal one, and it sure doesn't look like that's why Anthony Kennedy decided to retire.