If you happened to witness the New Year’s Eve hilarities at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s luxurious frat house, you saw the landlord whooping it up with a guy at his side effecting the same arms-waving body language with wide-open howling in joyous ecstasy.

He was later identified as Joey “No Socks”  Cinque, a reputed New York mobster from way back  – a “scam artist” and “art fence” (in the theft of classic paintings ) as described in New York Magazine who existed in Trump’s vast business world. Various mainstream media reports have raised issues about Cinque’s dealings with Mafia boss John Gotti.

Trump has waved off his relationship with Cinque, saying he didn’t know him that well nor that he was aware of Cinque’s conviction for  art trafficking.     But in a 2009 video,  Trump did say “There’s nobody like him.  He’s a special guy.”

You bet he is.

Cinque is president and CEO of an outfit named the American Academy of  Hospitality Sciences (AAHS) that awards five-star diamonds to classy hotels.   Prominent among those who received such distinctions are Trump hotel plaques,  while several of his own people sit on AAHS’s’ board.   Trump, himself, received a Lifetime Achievement award from AAHS on New Year’s Eve.
Still he defended  his acceptance of the award by breezily telling the media: “If a guy’s going to give you an award, you take it. You don’t tend   to look up his whole life story.”

Still, if they were no more than casual acquaintances, how did No Socks manage to share the spotlight with Trump   on New Year’s Eve?

And now you may no longer wonder how our next president has reconciled himself to praising Vladimir Putin.

With each passing day the smell test grows stronger.