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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Security Risk Administration

 In  Defying the Oddswe discuss  Trump's record of ethical laxity and carelessness about state secrets The update  -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Kate O’Keeffe and Aruna Viswanatha at WSJ:
U.S. counterintelligence officials in early 2017 warned Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, could be using her close friendship with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to further the interests of the Chinese government, according to people familiar with the matter.
U.S. officials have also had concerns about a counterintelligence assessment that Ms. Murdoch was lobbying for a high-profile construction project funded by the Chinese government in Washington, D.C., one of these people said.

The project, a planned $100 million Chinese garden at the National Arboretum, was deemed a national-security risk because it included a 70-foot-tall white tower that could potentially be used for surveillance, according to people familiar with the intelligence community’s deliberations over the garden. The garden was planned on one of the higher patches of land near downtown Washington, less than 5 miles from both the Capitol and the White House.
Devlin Barrett at WP:
Secret Service agents arrested a woman at President Trump’s Florida resort this past weekend after she was found carrying two Chinese passports and a thumb drive with malicious software on it, according to court documents.
Prosecutors allege the woman, Yujing Zhang, first told security officials at Mar-a-Lago that she was there to go to the swimming pool, and due to an apparent language barrier, staff at the club thought she was a relative of one of the club’s members.
Once inside the grounds, Zhang allegedly told a receptionist that she was there for a United Nations event scheduled for later in the day about Chinese-American relations. No such event was on the schedule, so the receptionist called the Secret Service, according to court papers.
Isaac Stanley-Becker at WP:
“The Secret Service does not determine who is invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago; this is the responsibility of the host entity,” the agency noted in a statement on Tuesday. “The Mar-a-Lago club management determines which members and guests are granted access to the property.”
...
Democrats decry the financial burden of the president’s double life, as well as the prospect that he could be using his office to drive business to his commercial venture. Each jaunt to South Florida saddles taxpayers with an average $3.4 million, according to a report released in February by the Government Accountability Office.
...
[In] February 2017 when Mar-a-Lago — which has been everything from a wedding venue to the site of New Year’s Eve bacchanalia — was briefly transformed into the Situation Room.
Guests at the country club snapped photos of Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe huddling over dinner about their response to a ballistic missile test by North Korea. The chaotic scene on the dining terrace was captured in a Facebook post by Richard DeAgazio, a retired investor and club member from the Boston area.