Trump’s taxes: The national security angle: Thanks to the New York Times, we know more about the state of the president’s finances. Perhaps most pertinent to national security, Trump “is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million, with most of it coming due within four years” and much of it owed to foreign banks, the Times reported Sunday off what it calls a vast and heretofore unavailable trove of tax returns and supporting documents.
POTUS opponents pounce. “He wouldn’t get a confidential clearance with these financial issues,” said Sam Vinograd, CNN analyst and former Obama staffer at the National Security Council.
Writes Mieke Eoyang, a former Democratic Senate intelligence staffer now at Third Way: “Debt is one of the factors that goes into the denial of a security clearance. Foreign Indebtedness is a red flag. Our national security officials must act in the country’s interest not that of their foreign creditors. Were he anyone else, Trump would never get a clearance.”
Bloomberg’s Tim O’Brien, who fought off a Trump lawsuit after reporting on his tax returns, writes: “Due to his indebtedness, his reliance on income from overseas and his refusal to authentically distance himself from his hodgepodge of business, Trump represents a profound national security threat – a threat that will only escalate if he’s re-elected.”
Says Juliette Kayyem, “This is the other side of how #TrumpTaxRecords pose a security threat. First, a person that much in debt is desperate and beholden. Second, he might use his govt authority to cover debt from resources meant for US safety, i.e. Trump billing Secret Service.”
Trump’s response: “It’s fake news. It’s totally fake news. Made up. Fake,” the president said in a Sunday afternoon press conference. “Totally fake news. No. Actually, I paid tax, but — and you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns — it’s under audit.”
FWIW, POTUS finally said: “I look forward to releasing that. I look forward to releasing many things. I'm going to release many things, and people will be really shocked.”
Speaking of conflicts of interest: a recent CREW report has documented 3,400 instances of Trump using his public office for private gain. “For nearly four years now, President Trump has made it abundantly clear that any claim of separation from his business was a lie, and coupled with his unprecedented decision not to divest his business empire before entering office, this empty promise has led to some of the most egregious examples of presidential corruption and conflicts of interest ever raised by a modern president.” Read, here.
If you prefer to read about some of these conflicts in narrative form, Vanity Fair has you covered.
And: here’s Defense One’s own list of the president’s private dealings abroad.
From Defense One
Defense News Radio, Ep. 77: Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger // Defense One Staff
Study: Sleeping in Shifts More Likely To Lead to Neurological Disorders // Patrick Tucker: Breakthroughs in fluid dynamics are revealing new clues about how odd hours affect the removal of toxins in the brain.
FBI Feeds Intel to DoD for Offensive Cyber Ops, Director Tells Congress // Mariam Baksh, Nextgov: Wray's new cyber strategy, rolled out earlier this month, aims to “impose risk and consequences on cyber adversaries.”
My Brother Austin Asked Me to Go to Syria With Him. Four Months Later, He was Taken // Jacob Tice: Ask about Austin Tice. Bring him home.
The Blob Meets the Heartland // William J. Burns, The Atlantic: Foreign policy should work better for America’s middle class.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Kevin Baron with Bradley Peniston. Send us tips from your community right here. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here.
Heavy fighting broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia this weekend. “The military action centered on the breakaway province of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian separatist enclave in Azerbaijan,” writes the NYTimes. “Ethnic tensions and historical grievances in the mountainous area north of Turkey and Iran have made kindling for conflict for decades.” Reuters, on the ground, said Monday at least 21 people were killed in fighting that “involved air power, missiles and heavy armour.”
Blame Stalin? Good backgrounder why fighting over this contested region dates back that far, in Al Jazeera, here.
Russia and Turkey are on opposite sides of this one. No surprise Turkey is no fan of Armenia, which Erdogan said is, “the biggest threat to peace in the region.”
Soldiers and civilians dead: “In Karabakh, the authorities said fighting had killed 16 of their soldiers and wounded about 100 more,” NYT reported Sunday.
Trump said, on Sunday: “We’re looking at it very strongly. We have a lot of good relationships in that area. We’ll see if we can stop it.”
Total Iraq pullout? The Trump administration threatened to close the Baghdad mega-embassy, “unless the Iraqi government stops a spate of rocket attacks by Shiite militias against U.S. interests, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Sunday,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Troops too, maybe. “‘What we’re being told is that it is a gradual closure of the embassy over two to three months,’ said an Iraqi official, who added that it might be coupled with the withdrawal of American troops in the country.”
It came from Pompeo: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered the warning in recent calls to Iraqi President Barham Salih and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the officials said.”
IEDs...in Iraq...still: “On Sunday alone, two separate convoys carrying U.S. military supplies in Iraq were targeted with improvised explosive devices, Iraqi military officials said.”
WaPo: “We hope the American administration will reconsider it,” Ahmed Mulla Talal, a spokesman for Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, said Sunday. “There are outlaw groups that try to shake this relationship, and closing the embassy would send a negative message to them.”
Attacks on diplomats are rising, and Kadhimi said a committee will be formed to investigate them, Rudaw reports.
The US Embassy in Baghdad is so huge and legendary even Vanity Fair wrote about it, in this 2007 profile. It’s the same size as Vatican City, USA Today noted more recently, and once held 16,000 people.
Op Warp Speed org chart reveals huge role of military. The White House’s Star Trek-named effort to create, produce, and distribute millions of doses of a future COVID vaccine “is largely an abstraction in Washington, with little known about who works there other than its top leaders, or how it operates. Even pharmaceutical companies hoping to offer help or partnerships have labored to figure out who to contact,” writes STAT News.
But a July 30 organizational chart of the $10 billion effort reveals “a highly structured organization in which military personnel vastly outnumber civilian scientists.” The “labyrinthine” chart, obtained by STAT, shows that OWS is led by roughly 60 military officials, including at least four generals, “many of whom have never worked in health care or vaccine development. Just 29 of the roughly 90 leaders on the chart aren’t employed by the Department of Defense.” Read on, here.
Suicides among military members are up some 20 percent amid “COVID-19, war-zone deployments, national disasters and civil unrest,” AP reports. “While the data is incomplete and causes of suicide are complex, Army and Air Force officials say they believe the pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force. And senior Army leaders — who say they’ve seen about a 30 precent jump in active duty suicides so far this year — told The Associated Press that they are looking at shortening combat deployments.” Read on, here.
COVID, by the numbers: At 7,139,300 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 204,500 have died, according to the NYT tracker.
Fort Hood’s new senior commander halts training to “regain trust.” Maj. Gen. John Richardson IV, who took over as deputy commander of the U.S. Army’s III Corps two weeks ago, has ordered a weeklong training standdown as part of a planned yearlong effort to “restore trust” on a base that has seen 28 soldiers die this year, including Spc. Vanessa Guillen, allegedly murdered by a fellow soldier. Military.com has a bit more, here.
Two stabbed near Paris’ Charlie Hebdo office; attacker confesses. On Friday, two employees of documentary film company Premières Lignes, which is next door to Charlie Hebdo, were injured by “‘a surprise attack, by a man armed with a very large bladed weapon,’ who inflicted ‘extremely violent blows,’” according to a film company official.
It was retaliation, the attacker said, because earlier this month Charlie Hebdo defiantly republished the same 2015 cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed, when the trial of those attackers began.
Attacker is young, male, Pakistani, illegal immigrant. He “an 18-year-old Pakistani man who arrived in France three years ago as an unaccompanied minor.”
Why does that matter? Some of France’s right-wing politicians, sounding must like American right-wing leaders, are expressing outrage the attacker was allowed to remain in the country this long, like EU Parliament member Gilbert Collard, here.
And finally, Daniel Pearl’s killer is back in jail. After a lower court in April reversed Omar Sheikh’s death sentence for orchestrating the 2002 kidnapping and beheading of the Wall Street Journal reporter, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered Sheikh back into custody. “It is unclear when the actual appeals will now be heard, though it could take months or even years, lawyers said. The Supreme Court will decide next week whether Mr. Sheikh will continue to be imprisoned pending the outcome of those appeal proceedings.” More from WSJ, here.