Election 2016

Donald Trump Rang in the New Year With a Convicted Felon and Dubai Billionaire

Recently released video shows Trump stumping while, to his left, Joseph "Joey No Socks" Cinque cheers him on.

Photo Credit: Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com

President-elect Donald Trump rang in the new year not by planning how to run the country, or meeting with his staff and deputies, but by hanging out with a bunch of rich people he may be doing business with and telling them, yet again, that he’s going to cut their taxes.

Palm Beach Daily News got its hands on video of Donald Trump giving a rambling 10-minute speech to 800 guests at his $500-per-plate New Year’s Eve black tie gala at Mar-a-Lago, the president-elect’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

The video shows Trump, on mic, promising guests that, “The taxes are coming down, regulations are coming off, we’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” while, to his left, Joseph “Joey No Socks” Cinque — founder and chairman of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences and known associate of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti, claps and fist-pumps. To Trump’s right, another man in a tuxedo holds an ornamental brass eagle.

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In 1989, “Joey No Socks” was convicted of felony possession of stolen artwork worth upwards of $100,000. Now, Cinque, through his Academy, gives out Star Diamond awards to upscale hotels — including several of Trump’s. The Associated Press found that roughly half of the Academy’s trustees are Trump-affiliated, but Trump in May denied knowing Cinque: “If a guy’s going to give you an award, you take it. You don’t tend to look up his whole life story.”

“Hussain and the whole family, the most beautiful people, are here from Dubai tonight. And they’re seeing it and they’re loving it,” he said, referring to the club’s ballroom.

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer and nonfiction MFA candidate at Columbia University.