Tag: mar a lago
Trump Appeared At Mar-a-Lago Event Promoting QAnon 'Documentary' Films

Trump Appeared At Mar-a-Lago Event Promoting QAnon 'Documentary' Films

Former President Donald Trump appeared onstage at a Mar-a-Lago event with filmmaker and QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Mike Smith and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The film screened at the event, which was hosted by Flynn’s America’s Future, was the sequel to Smith’s film that pushed the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory.

On March 28, America’s Future — a group run by Flynn and his family which has become increasingly tied to QAnon, with multiple QAnon figures including Liz Crokin being involved with the organization — hosted Smith at Mar-a-Lago. (Flynn himself is tied to the conspiracy theory and to We The Media, a QAnon influencer collective.) According to the event flier, the event would have “special movie screenings of Out of Shadows and Into the Light -- masterpiece films rocking the world with the truth about how information deception, psyops, and mind manipulation are used to control reality.” However, according to Smith, only Into the Light was ultimately screened.

During the event, Trump appeared on stage with Smith and Flynn, with Trump shaking their hands and going on to laud Flynn, according to video uploaded by attendee Ben Moore, who is a member of America’s Future and a QAnon influencer known online as “Sun Tzu.”

In addition to Smith, Flynn, and Moore, fellow America’s Future members Crokin and Lara Logan were also in attendance at the event (like Smith and Crokin, Logan is also a Pizzagate conspiracy theorist and has sympathized with QAnon).

Smith, a former Hollywood stuntman, became known in 2020 when his YouTube film Out of Shadowsquickly racked up millions of views, and he has since expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, repeatedly posting variations of the QAnon slogan (“where we go one, we go all,” or “WWG1WGA”), thanking the “Q team,” and even becoming a member of We The Media.

The film Out of Shadows “alleges, among other things, that Hollywood is run by Satanic pedophilia rings” and pushes the debunked Pizzagate conspiracy theory, with Crokin baselessly claiming during the film that a D.C. pizzeria was part of a child trafficking ring. Smith has credited Crokin for getting him into Pizzagate, a conspiracy theory which inspired a man to open fire in the restaurant in December 2016.

Into the Light, which was screened at Mar-a-Lago, is the sequel to Out of Shadows and is described as “a movie made to bring to surface that psychological operations are present and active in today’s society.” The film features interviews with Flynn, Logan, and others, and pushes conspiracy theories about the World Economic Forum and the “great reset.”

Trump’s appearance at a Mar-a-Lago event tied to QAnon and Pizzagate comes after the former president previously appeared at a December 2022 America’s Future event at his property that also featured Crokin pushing Pizzagate, where Trump was photographed with her. It is also yet another example of Trump’s relationship with the QAnon community, which he and those in his orbit have increasingly embraced.

The article has been updated to reflect that Mike Smith claims only Into the Light was screened, despite the event’s flier indicating that both of his films would be shown at Mar-a-Lago.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Revealed: Boxes Of Documents We Didn't Know Trump Took To Bedminster

Revealed: Boxes Of Documents We Didn't Know Trump Took To Bedminster

It was a big night for CNN, out with a story about document boxes being loaded onto a Trump plane bound for Bedminster, New Jersey, on the same day the Department of Justice showed up to receive a folder of top secret documents from a Trump lawyer who certified they were the only secret documents she and lawyer Evan Corcoran could find.

According to an interview by CNN with former Trump valet Brian Butler, referred to six times in the classified documents indictment as “Trump Employee #5,” the boxes were loaded onto the Trump plane on June 3, 2022, as Trump’s lawyers, Christina Bobb and Evan Corcoran, were meeting with Jay Bratt, the prosecutor from the Department of Justice in charge of the classified documents case. Christina Bobb famously signed a certification to the DOJ that a “diligent search” had been conducted at Mar-a-Lago, and that the 31 documents being handed over that day were the sum total of all the classified documents that had been found.

Two months later, in August, FBI agents would execute a search warrant and discover more than 100 additional top secret documents in Trump’s private office, including several marked with the highest classification, “Top Secret/SCI,” or “Top Secret – Secure Compartmented Information.”

Former valet Butler told CNN that he was surprised to get a phone call from Trump’s “body man,” Walt Nauta, on June 3, asking if he could borrow one of Butler’s Cadillac Escalade SUV’s to help carry material to the West Palm Beach airport to be loaded onto a Trump airplane. Butler was told that Trump and his family were flying to Bedminster for the summer that day. Butler told CNN he was not usually called upon to move luggage to the private Trump jet and thought it was also unusual that Nauta asked for the favor “in a guarded way,” CNN reported.

Butler used his own SUV to carry Trump family luggage to the airport, while Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, both of whom were indicted with Trump, used the Escalade he had loaned to Nauta to move the rest of the material. “They were the boxes that were in the indictment, the white bankers boxes. That’s what I remember loading,” Butler told CNN.

Butler described his relationship with Nauta as “best friends,” at least until questions about the classified documents found by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago began coming up. Butler told CNN that on one of the frequent “nightly walks” he took with Nauta around their neighborhood in West Palm Beach, Nauta told him that he, Nauta, Butler, and De Oliveira were “all dirty” when it came to the boxes they had moved around inside of Mar-a-Lago and to the Trump airplane on June 3. De Oliveira repeatedly urged Butler to sign up with the same attorney Trump had provided to himself and Nauta, but Butler demurred, choosing instead to hire a former U.S. Attorney in Florida, Jeffrey Sloman. Butler met “repeatedly” with prosecutors for the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith, according to CNN.

In one interview, Butler told prosecutors about a time he was driving Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt and his chief of staff in the Spring of 2021 when he heard Pratt talking about secrets of U.S. and Russian nuclear submarines he had heard from Trump while he was visiting Mar-a-Lago. Pratt was a paid member of the Trump club at the time. It was on May 6, 2021, that the National Archives first formally requested that Trump turn over any and all classified and non-classified documents Trump had removed from the White House when he left office. On May 8, the British newspaper, the Daily Mail, had a photographer at the West Palm Beach airport who took photographs of Trump boarding a private jet to fly to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The photographs show several Trump aides loading a half dozen or more bankers boxes of documents into the jet.

On July 21, 2021, just two months later, Trump showed a top secret military “plan of attack” on Iran to an interviewer who was working on a book with Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows. The interview took place at the Trump golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Before Butler signed with his own private attorney, he was witness to two conversations between Trump and De Oliveira when Trump asked De Oliveira, “Are we good?” After one conversation De Oliveira had with Trump on the phone in the presence of Butler, he said Trump had promised to get him a lawyer. In another conversation Butler recounted to prosecutors, Nauta asked him “to make sure Carlos (De Oliveira) is good.” Butler told CNN that he twice assured Nauta that De Oliveira was “loyal and wouldn’t do anything to hurt his relationship with Trump.” It was after that conversation that Butler decided to get his own lawyer and broke contact with the two men who ended up being indicted with Trump.

Based on the new CNN report, we now know that boxes of documents were moved from Mar-a-Lago to Bedminster twice – once in May of 2021 immediately after the National Archives had requested that Trump turn over documents he took from the White House, and again in June of 2022, on the very day the DOJ had shown up at Mar-a-Lago to take possession of what they were told were all the classified documents being held there.

What happened to the classified documents Trump took with him to Bedminster is not known. It is also unknown why the FBI never searched the Trump New Jersey golf club.

Trump has recently filed motions to dismiss the Mar-a-Lago indictments based on spurious claims of “absolute immunity” and an entire made-up claim that the Presidential Records Act permitted him to possess classified documents. Special Counsel Smith has opposed both motions. The judge in the case, whose previous decisions in the case have been overturned twice by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, has yet to rule on the Trump motions to dismiss.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Trump's Courtroom Tantrums Can't Hide How Badly He's Losing

Trump's Courtroom Tantrums Can't Hide How Badly He's Losing

Donald Trump took the stand on Monday morning in the New York courtroom of Judge Arthur Engoron and almost immediately began to respond to questions with long, meandering rants that more closely resembled his social media posts than an answer to anything state’s attorney Kevin Wallace was asking. Engoron repeatedly asked Trump’s lead attorney Chris Kise to get his client under control, but Kise refused to do so and claimed that Trump had a special right as the “former and future chief executive” to give whatever response he wanted.

Much of Trump’s performance seemed dedicated to trying to rile the judge into taking some kind of action that might have justified a motion for mistrial. That notion was confirmed during the lunch break, when both Trump and his attorney Alina Habba attacked the judge in a transparent ploy to push Engoron into some kind of definitive action, like a contempt citation. That didn’t happen.

What did happen, in both the morning and afternoon sessions, was that Trump was forced over and over again to concede points critical to New York Attorney General Letitia James’s financial fraud case. Much of the coverage is going to be about Trump’s attacks on Engoron, Wallace, and James. But what happened in court on Monday was that Trump kept right on losing.

In that morning session, Trump tried to derail the questioning at every opportunity and attorneys Kise and Habba joined in the effort to goad Engoron into doing something they could complain about. But Engoron and Wallace seemed content to give Trump mile after mile of rope, and eventually, the answers they sought emerged from Trump’s extended ranting.

Most of what Wallace showed during the morning proceedings was how Trump gave highly conflicting reports of the value of some of his biggest properties, including Mar-a-Lago, 40 Wall Street, and his golf property in Scotland.

In a scheme similar to those Eric Trump had been forced to explain during his testimony, Trump had placed a value on all of these properties based not on what was there, but on what could be there if the properties were built out, remodeled, and exploited to the max. That included valuing his Aberdeen golf property as if it had hundreds of houses and a second course, neither of which existed. It included treating 40 Wall Street as if it had been completely updated and divided into high-value apartments, which didn’t happen. And it included valuing Mar-a-Lago as if it had been turned into a private residence, which not only hasn’t happened but also can’t happen based on agreements that Trump signed.

After the lunch break, the pugnacious defendant seemed more subdued as Wallace presented Trump with thick stacks of agreements he had signed to secure loans from Deutsche Bank. Just as his sons had done the previous week, Trump seemed not to grasp—or refused to acknowledge—that signing a document saying that he was legally responsible for the accuracy of the contents made him legally responsible. Trump’s responses in this section were often brief at first as Wallace walked him through one document after another.

Trump devoted a fair amount of the afternoon to insisting that he was protected by a disclaimer, or “worthless clause,” that had already been ruled not relevant in an earlier phase of the trial. At one point, Trump pulled a copy of the clause from his pocket and tried to read it. Engoron did not allow this. Trump also insisted that the banks were responsible for checking his work, even though the documents he signed said otherwise.

Toward the end of the testimony, Trump seemed to be winding up again, attacking Engoron and state’s attorney Wallace. But Wallace successfully led Trump through the remaining loan agreements, got the responses he wanted, and let Trump go.

Following Trump’s testimony, Kise immediately brought up his threat of a motion for a mistrial. This time, Kise told Engoron that he may want to bring up information that could be barred in court. Presumably, this means digging into conspiracy theories around Engoron, James, and others. Engoron ended the day asking Kise not to file that motion. But it’s a pretty good bet that the motion will be filed.

After all, Trump had already lost this case before the trial began. Everything happening now serves only to determine how badly he lost it.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Romney Bio Says GOP Senators Laughed At Trump Behind His Back

Romney Bio Says GOP Senators Laughed At Trump Behind His Back

A new biography of Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is making waves not just for its revealing tidbits about the private details of the Senate GOP and Romney's life, but also for how prominent Republicans mocked former President Donald Trump behind closed doors.

In one anecdote, author McKay Coppins — a staff writer for The Atlantic shared on NPR's Fresh Air, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blithely referred to then-President Trump in the lead-up to his first impeachment trial in the US Senate as an "idiot" who didn't think before speaking. Romney also recalled a story in which almost the entirety of the Senate GOP laughed at Trump behind his back after he spoke to senators in the aftermath of then-Attorney General Bill Barr's summary of the Mueller report.

"[Trump is] immediately greeted with a standing ovation. The senators - they're kind of treating him like a conquering hero, right? And Trump, as is his wont, launched into some sort of rambling stream-of-consciousness remarks. He talks about the Russia hoax and relitigating the midterm elections. And, you know, he's hitting all of his favorite policy points about China tariffs and border security and, you know, just kind of rambling. And at one point, Trump even said that the GOP would soon become the party of health care," Coppins said. "And Romney kind of looked around the room, saw all the senators nodding dutifully in agreement along with everything that Trump was saying, and then as soon as the president left, the entire Republican caucus burst into laughter" (emphasis added).

Coppins' biography, Romney: A Reckoning, was based not only on interviews with the Utah senator (who announced in September his plans to retire instead of running for another term in 2024), but on journal entries, personal correspondence, and private emails the senator and 2012 Republican presidential nominee kept over the years. The book also includes tidbits about Romney's first impressions of Trump when the two first met.

According to Coppins' account, Romney — who had not yet ventured into politics at the time — went to Mar-a-Lago at Trump's invitation in January of 1995 for business-related reasons. He confided to Coppins that he saw Trump as less of a businessman and more of a "cartoonish celebrity." He added that everything he saw there "confirmed his instincts about Trump."

Coppins said:

"He said that when they first pulled up to Mar-a-Lago, there was a line of servants in white linen, you know, waiting to greet him as though they were - he was, like, a king or a lord or something. And Romney remembered saying - just thinking like, where on earth are we? You know, he said he'd never seen anything like that in America. Later, when Trump gave him a tour of Mar-a-Lago, he kind of was showing off various things in this house, this complex that he had just bought, actually. And he showed him a set of gold colored silverware. And Trump said they didn't know this was here when they sold me the place. And it's worth more than I paid for the house. I'm going to make a fortune. And it's just - it was funny because Romney basically came away from the experience saying, that was everything I wanted out of this. You know, it was weird and memorable and a great story that I'll tell people, and I'll probably never see this guy again."

Coppins' book was published this week and is available in stores and online. Click here to read the full transcript of Coppins' Fresh Air interview.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.