How Trump Can Avoid the Ethical Tar Pit
A tsunami of change is washing over Washington D.C. as a new administration, from a different party, enters the process of transition.
For us at Judicial Watch, however, it’s business as usual. As corrupt as the Obama administration has been, we are under no illusion that a new broom sweeps entirely clean. Even before he takes the oath of office, President-elect Trump is under pressure over the potential conflicts of interest related to his sprawling Trump Organization.
By way of background, the ethics rules covering government officials are designed to punish successful businessmen like Trump. But as the relevant law doesn’t apply to Trump, some (mostly from the Left) are trying to pressure him to destroy his company completely in order to eliminate alleged conflicts of interest. This week Judicial Watch presented alternative views in an op-ed that appeared in The New York Times. We appreciate that the Times published our contrarian approach. Believe it or not, some, especially his ideological opponents sees this issue as a potential vehicle for impeachment, so it is an area your Judicial Watch will carefully monitor.
Here’s a portion of the piece, which you can read in full here: in here:
In a tweet on Monday, [Trump] promised without elaborating that “no new deals will be done” by his business while he is president. This sounds interesting. Americans should expect that the new president will take reasonable steps to separate his public office from his personal business. But it would be unfair to insist that Mr. Trump destroy his business to become president. This would create a dangerous precedent that would, in effect, deter those who had succeeded in their private lives from bringing their substantial skills to the public arena.
Given the potential for conflicts, it makes sense for the American people to demand assurances that the public interest won’t be harmed by the continued operation of Trump Inc. So, what to do?
First, let’s not pretend that the Trump children will not be conflicted in running the company for their father. That is why Mr. Trump should formalize his complete separation from his company and stop working on any aspect of his business. He should draw no pay. And, difficult as it may be, he should vow not to discuss any aspect of the Trump business empire with his children — or any other Trump executive.
Mr. Trump and those at the company’s helm should commit to full transparency by making public any contracts with any federal agency, foreign government or foreign corporation. Our nation’s enemies, and some of our friends, will seek to either curry favor with or damage America through the Trump businesses. By providing full transparency, Mr. Trump and his family can show that they take seriously that, as Mr. Trump has tweeted, it is “visually important, as president, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses.”
It would be in the company’s best interest to set up an internal watchdog to help develop procedures that could help avoid conflicts.
The Constitution’s Emoluments Clause bars the president from earning any compensation from a foreign government. Mr. Trump ought to consider a partial disinvestment from his company by either selling outright or rejecting the proceeds of any stakes with foreign government partners.
He should refuse any third party contributions to his personal foundation.
Above all, the Trump administration should be completely transparent on any government dealings with the Trump empire.
If Mr. Trump recognizes the public interest in transparency and accountability – and follows through – it would be a remarkable change of pace from business as usual in Washington, DC.
Somali “Community” Given Special Access to Secured Areas of Airports
The Obama administration’s willful failure to recognize the potential threat from radical Islamists here at home continues to place Americans at risk. The latest example of this will shock you and in is found in just 31 pages of records we pried loose from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The records reveal the Department of Homeland Security has given Somalis “community engagement tours,” including security briefings, in secured areas in at least three major U.S. airports – Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Columbus, Ohio.
The briefings provided to the Somali groups were so sensitive that in 14 instances the agency redacted portions of the records under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption (B)(7)(e) the law-enforcement “risk circumvention” exemption, which reads:
Exemption 7(E) of the Freedom of Information Act affords protection to all law enforcement information that would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law.
In one instance, Customs and Border Protection exempted under (B)(7)(e) a portion of a February 16, 2016, “Minute by Minute Agenda” provided during a tour/briefing of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). The material that was withheld from Judicial Watch as too law-enforcement sensitive – but provided in full to the Somali group – included a section entitled: “TSA Overview — Processing [Redacted].” The invitees were provided briefings of the Global Entry system, APC [Automated Passport Control] system, secondary screening procedures, baggage-screening procedures and given tours of the holding cells/interview rooms.
Notes from the February Minneapolis St. Paul Airport tour indicate: “Current CBP and TSA job vacancies” were discussed. Attendees responded with requests for DHS outreach efforts during Somali community events to further advertise these positions to interested individuals.”
The newly released records also reveal:
In addition to the Minneapolis Airport tours/briefings given to Somalis during 2014 and 2015 – and first revealed by Judicial Watch in August 2016 – tours of U.S. airports and security briefings also have been provided to other groups at airports in Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio: “Once we agree on the dates we will select the time based on prayer schedules. Another idea could be the roundtable to take place at the airport after the tour. We have done that before in LA and Columbus and it worked well both times”.
The timing of the Minneapolis Airport tour given to a group of Somalis in February 2016 was scheduled between 6-8pm because it would “accommodate prayer times well”
During the “annual” tour, federal authorities granted excursions of the facility’s “secure areas.” It is also noted that two parties in the previous year “did not pass vetting.”
The invitation extended to the Somalis for the Minneapolis Airport tour addressed them as “Dear Colleague,” and promised “walking people through CBP’s process, walking people through TSA’s process” and provide “a step-by-step tour of our operations, designed to offer a greater understanding of airport processes and procedures.”
Eight senior ranking Homeland Security and Customs officials were tasked with accompanying and briefing the Somalis on the February 18, 2016, Minneapolis Airport tour, including the Minneapolis Area Port Director, the Assistant Port Director, the Watch Commander, a Homeland Security Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Senior Policy Advisor (flown in from Washington), the TSA Federal Security Director and TSA Deputy Federal Security Director.
The documents show Customs officials reporting that one of the invited individuals had given “CBP Chicago a hard time” following the last tour and noted three of the invitees had had investigations against them, which had since been closed. Another invitee had an active investigation pending.
Logically, information that is too sensitive to provide to Judicial Watch and the public should not have been given to a “community engagement tour.” The U.S. government has been aware for years that Minnesota is a hotbed of Somali terrorist-cell activity. The behind-the-scenes tours and security briefings of the Minneapolis airport very well could have created a threat to public safety.
We’ve been on watch for this issue for some time. In August 2016, the JW Corruption Chronicles blog reported on the Muslim airport tour story: “The Obama administration gave Somali Muslims behind-the-scenes tours at a major U.S. airport after the group complained to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson about feeling harassed and profiled, government records obtained by Judicial Watch reveal. The special security tours not offered to any other group occurred at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after Department of Homeland Security roundtable meetings with local Somali leaders to obtain feedback for ‘modifications to practices that would allow for operations to be more culturally sensitive.’”
JW Reveals Shocking Details About Mexican Heroin Cartels
Our porous border brings other threats to our health and safety, as Chris Farrell, our Director of Investigations & Research, explains in this piece published by Fox News.
Mexican drug cartels are the “other” terrorist threat to America. Militant Islamists have the goal of destroying the United States. Mexican drug cartels are now accomplishing that mission – from within, every day, in virtually every community across this country.
ISIS only dreams of exacting the human casualties the Mexican cartels achieve, despite decades of the “War on Drugs.” The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimates heroin-related overdose deaths increased 244 percent between 2007 and 2013. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated nearly 1,000,000 American heroin users in 2014.
The DEA’s 2015 threat assessment says Mexican drug cartels “remain the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States; no other group can challenge them in the near term.” Mexican drug cartels are engaged in an insidious and deadly attack on our country – right now.
The Commonwealth of Virginia declared a public health emergency on November 21, 2016, over the growing crisis of heroin and opioid addiction.
There has been an exponential increase and simultaneous shift, from prescription opioids to heroin (sometimes mixed with the synthetic narcotic fentanyl). For the Mexican drug cartels, the border is in Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, and all other communities across the country.
The American heroin market begins in the poppy fields of Mexico. Controlled by the cartels, and more recently assisted by Southwest Asians who provide agricultural production techniques (increasing both quantity and quality) – and combat training for the cartel armies (learned by fighting US forces).
The cartel armies are increasingly dangerous and more sophisticated. In May 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported foreign fighters training the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in how to shoot down Mexican Army helicopters. It’s “win-win” for the Mexican cartels and the jihadis.
Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) and the rural southwest corner of Chihuahua are the Sinaloa Cartel’s base for poppy production. Reportedly, the same area has the largest concentration of Islamists in Mexico – surpassed, perhaps, only by Mexico City.
None of this information is “news” to U.S. law enforcement, intelligence, defense or diplomatic officials. The staff of the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) literally watches it all go on – right under their noses.
How can this be? Here is the unpopular answer: We have an “insider threat” – corrupt law enforcement officers at the municipal, state and federal levels – who are bought and paid for by the Mexican cartels.
The corruption runs the gamut from turning a blind eye to accepting monthly stipends and performance bonuses deposited in banks in, for example, Ciudad Juárez. The
corrupt law enforcement officers are aided and abetted by corrupt elected officials and crooked lawyers who know how to work the system. These are often popular local and regional public figures with business interests and standing in the community. They are also people who leverage their positions in order to “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity” when it comes to enforcement.
The corrupting process is facilitated in the United States by “legitimate” cartel fronts, in the agribusiness and transportation industries, among others. No one likes that answer, but it’s the truth.
How else can tractor-trailer loads of heroin make it into the country? How has such an elaborate and efficient distribution system spread throughout the country and perpetuated itself for decades? One knowledgeable law enforcement source gave me an example:
“Does Walmart ever run out of milk? No. That’s exactly what the cartel distribution system is like across the entire country. It only works so efficiently because of corruption.”
The greatest criminal threat to the daily lives of American citizens are the Mexican drug cartels. Their corrosive power is killing Americans regardless of race, color, creed or zip code – and that undermines public confidence in the rule of law. The cartels corrupt our trusted public officials and institutions. Their violence and cruelty know no bounds.
What will President Trump and Attorney General Sessions do differently to defeat this “other” threat to the United States?
They need to start by “cleaning house” at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.
When someone self-righteously defends wide open borders, show him this article. I encourage you, as well. Watch Chris here as he discusses this most serious of issues.
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