With all of the news of grand jury testimony from the Patricks - Trump White House attorneys Patrick Cipollone and Patrick Philbin, along with the discovery of yet more classified information at a Trump storage location in Florida (more on this in a bit), you might have missed a Forbes article discussing a previously undisclosed $19.8 million Trump liability held by Daewoo, a South Korean conglomerate.
Information about the debt - which apparently dates back to at least 2011 and escaped earlier detection by innumerable government and media investigators - was obtained by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. After holding steady from 2011 through 2016, the debt suddenly plummeted to $4.3 million in June, 2017, and was gone by July 5th of the same year. A short six months after Trump sworn in.
Although Forbes outlines reasons why disclosure of the liability may or may not have been required (while an oversimplification, federal election regulations require disclosure of personal loans but not always loans to the companies of individuals - read the article for more detail), there are several potential national security concerns:
Who paid off the debt - Trump? Trump was reportedly quite cash poor by the time of the election - if true, where did the money come from? A third party? If so, what conditions or future expectations, if any, were attached, given that the beneficiary of such an action had become the President of the United States?
Given the appearance of leverage, why not disclose the foreign debt and subsequent clearing of it? An attempt to hide the foreign debt gives rise to concerns it was improper, or might be seen as politically damaging - a fact which might be used as coercive leverage by the party paying off the debt or others who knew about it.
In the mid-1990s, according to Forbes, Daewoo was the only South Korean company permitted to operate a business inside of North Korea. Given Trump’s chumminess with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is there any connection between Trump, Daewoo, and Kim?
Earlier today, the Washington Post reported at least two new classified documents had been discovered within Trump property at a government-administered storage locker in West Palm Beach. But not to worry! “A person familiar with the matter said the storage unit had a mix of boxes, gifts, suits and clothes, among other things. ‘It was suits and swords and wrestling belts and all sorts of things,’ this person said.”
“It was suits and swords and wrestling belts and all sorts of things,” this person said.
The discovery came in the midst of several (reportedly three - or four, if you believe CNN) searches of Trump properties at Bedminster, Trump Tower New York, the West Palm Beach storage locker, and the CNN-only reported “office location in Florida.” The searches were conducted by a team hired by Trump in response to Federal District of DC Chief Judge Beryl Howell’s direction they conduct a more thorough search for classified documents.
While it doesn’t surprise me at all that Trump, yet again, still had classified documents, the circumstances never fail to disappoint. That Trump would somehow co-mingle classified information with what sounds like a menagerie of props from a county fair stage manager brings back all the questions of just what in the hell was going on within the White House for four years.
When did anyone first observe Trump keeping and not returning classified information he had been given? Who did they report that to? Did anyone not on White House staff take that information back to their home agency, e.g., did a CIA or NRO or NSA of FBI briefer go back and say, “hey, Trump held on to it and I couldn’t get it back”? Was any inventory kept of what classified information was given to Trump? Did any intelligence agency and/or the Director of National Intelligence institute new procedures to track classified information going in to Trump? Did they care enough to do anything about it?
We actually know the answers to many of these questions. John Bolton - Trump’s one-time national security advisor, stated,
“[o]ften, the president would say, ‘Well, can I keep this?’ And in my experience, the intelligence briefers most often would say, ‘Well sir, we'd prefer to take that back,’” Bolton said. “But sometimes they forgot.”
Former chief of staff John Kelly added,
“the former president had long exhibited a lack of respect for the strict rules for document handling sacred to the intelligence community, which is in the business of guarding the country’s national security. ‘His sense was that the people who are in the intel business are incompetent, and he knew better,’ Kelly said. ‘He didn’t believe in the classification system.’”
So many people - people up to and including senior advisors to the President and all around the intelligence community - knew this was happening. Yet did nothing. And now we have classified information being pulled from of the Trump equivalent of your hoarding Aunt Minnie’s storage shed out in the backyard.
Speaking of hoarding, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals demolition of Judge Aileen Cannon’s order establishing a Special Master notes, “During discussion of this factor at oral argument, Plaintiffs counsel noted that the seized items included ‘golf shirts’ and ‘pictures of Celine Dion.’ The government concedes that Plaintiff ‘may have a property interest in his personal effects.’ While Plaintiff may have an interest in these items and others like them, we do not see the need for their immediate return after seizure under a presumptively lawful search warrant.”
Leading to the question of WHY Trump had pictures of Celine Dion alongside classified information. Weird. And kind of creepy.
Perhaps there’s an innocuous explanation, something along the lines of Stephanie Grisham’s recounting how,
“At one point, Mr. Trump’s handlers designated an unnamed White House official known as the “Music Man” to play him his favorite show tunes, including “Memory” from “Cats,” to pull him from the brink of rage.
No mention of “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” In any case, it’s not - he’s going to need to wait a while longer to get them back.
His heart will go on.
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The Rise of Global White Supremacy
Early on Wednesday morning, more than 3,000 German security and law enforcement personnel arrested 25 people (with more operations reportedly ongoing), allegedly members of a domestic terrorist plot to overthrow the German government. That’s a *huge* number of people - in the FBI, a high profile arrest with a series of complex search warrants might push 50-60 people. A very large series of gang arrests, maybe several hundred. And that’s a lot. Three thousand personnel is just remarkable.
One of the 25 arrested was a Russian national, and two arrests occurred outside of Germany, in Austria and Italy. The group reportedly “followed a conglomerate of conspiracy myths consisting of narratives of the so-called Reichsbürger [movement] as well as QAnon ideology.” Concerningly, German authorities indicated the leadership of the group reached out to Russian government officials for assistance (though it’s not yet clear if they received a response) - an effort allegedly aided by the Russian woman who was arrested.
Here in the U.S., the last residents of Moore County, North Carolina are having their power restored (reporting from The Pilot in Southern Pines, NC - support local journalism!) after a Saturday night firearms attack on two power substations left approximately 45,000 people without electricity. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, and authorities from the Moore County Sheriff to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to the FBI have not publicly identified any subjects.
The nation’s power grid has long been seen as vulnerable to attack, and DHS has recently warned in detail that domestic violent extremists (DVEs) “have developed credible, specific plans to attack electricity infrastructure since at least 2020, identifying the electric grid as a particularly attractive target given its interdependency with other infrastructure sectors.”
Despite DHS’s broad characterization of DVEs, it’s difficult to ignore a specific component of violent extremists - specifically, white supremacists past targeting of the US power grid. This past February, three men - Christopher Brenner Cook, Jonathan Allen Frost, and Jackson Matthew Sawall - pled guilty to “crimes related to a scheme to attack power grids in the United States in furtherance of white supremacist ideology.” According to DOJ’s press release at the time,
As part of the conspiracy, each defendant was assigned a substation in a different region of the United States. The plan was to attack the substations, or power grids, with powerful rifles. The defendants believed their plan would cost the government millions of dollars and cause unrest for Americans in the region. They had conversations about how the possibility of the power being out for many months could cause war, even a race war, and induce the next Great Depression.
I worry about copy cats and dark days ahead.
N&S Korea loan payoff: Or was it forgiven? Perhaps, N. Korea paid off S. Korea?
Minor Classification or Restricted Data?: Bolton saying that "But sometimes they forgot” to return them. "RD" is Restricted Data, strictly handled. Only authorized Department of Energy personnel may declassify or redact documents containing RD (nuclear Tippy-Top Secret).
If Trump kept this type of document in his possession, without a signature on a DOE authorization to remove the docs from a secure location, and without being accompanied by a DOE authorized armed guard to babysit the document/s 24/7, then, the then sitting President Trump was breaking the law -- and so were the DOE officials, guard/s & individual/s who ignored their training when they left the document/s unsecured. If so, TFG & Others better darn well be in a heap of legal trouble.
Any knowing, willful, or negligent action contrary to the requirements of 10 CFR part 1045 that results in the misclassification of information may result in sanctions --
*Appropriate criminal, civil, and/or administrative penalties for misclassification violations
*Administrative sanctions possible for other violations of the policies and procedures of 10 CFR part 1045
Report Compromised or Lost RD/FRD: (301) 903-3767 (it's a public number)
“But sometimes they forgot.” This has been annoying me for quite some time -- what about the records custodian, the person who signed out the documents, etc., etc.? I know from my time in the military and as a civil service employee -- heads would roll if a document had a wrinkle in it! Okay I exaggerate a bit there but do you think these people have also been interviewed? Are they still employed? <sigh> Infuriating is right!