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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Donald Trump was in particularly odious form over the weekend. His primary non-appearance appearance was on Saturday night, when he spoke at a secret no-phones, no-reporters fundraising event for the Florida Republican Party. But he didn’t just speak: The Miami Herald reports that Trump also took the opportunity to fete two of the military war criminals he recently pardoned, bringing the two out onstage with him.

There is no report of how the audience of Republican Party bigwigs, which included Jared Kushner, Reps. Jim Jordan and Mike Waltz and many of the state’s top Republican officeholders, responded to Trump’s presentation of two pardoned war criminals. We can only assume the Republicans present cheered and applauded the men, since there have been zero condemnations of Trump offering the two up for Republican celebration. (The sight of Jim Jordan or Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis giving military war criminals an ovation is, one presumes, why absolutely no recording device were permitted.)

From that well-received and, according to the Herald‘s queried attendees, “hilarious” hour-long private speech involving both war criminals and “impressions” of other political figures, No-Thumbs Hitler moved to a more public setting, giving an address to the Israeli American Council.

That appearance gave a more robust view of what top Republican officials claimed to find “hilarious”, in Trump’s prior appearance. Noting that he knew some of the attendees at the Sheldon Adelson-sponsored event from his real estate dealings, Trump declared them “not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me. You have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that. [Laughter] You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax!”

“Yeah, let’s take 100 percent of your wealth away! No, no. Even if you don’t like me, some of you don’t, some of you I don’t like at all actually. [Laughter] And you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’ll be out of business in about 15 minutes if they get in.”

Whether Trump’s declaration that his audience of hard-right Jewish Americans love money too much to vote for his opponent strikes you as anti-Semitic is up to you; his continued obsession with referring to Sen. Elizabeth Warren with a racial slur is even blunter. Trump also invoked the “dual loyalty” tropes directed at Jewish Americans, and in fact not just invoked them but presumed and demanded them. “You have people that are Jewish people, that are great people, they don’t love Israel enough. You know that.”

After shaky weeks, Trump appears to be in a better mood than he has been in some time. The White House and Senate Republicans appear to have settled on a strategy for pushing an impeachment trial through the Senate as quickly and insincerely as possible, as “lawyer” Rudy Giuliani begins production of an anti-Biden “documentary” relying on the same corrupt forced-from-power pro-Russian Ukrainian grifters and thugs that successfully removed an anti-corruption U.S. ambassador in a previous smear campaign. He appears to believe he is on the cusp of not just getting away with his extortion scheme, but that with the Republican Senate’s help he will soon be able to advance it to its planned next stages.

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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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