Depreciate This: Trump Is a Massive Security Risk

The story thus far: According to the New York Times, Trump is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million. Most of this debt comes due within four years. Further, the IRS is auditing him about a $72.9 million tax refund he received a decade ago. It it is decided that refund was not legitimate, it’s possible he owes the IRS about $100 million now. So that’s, um, a lot of debt. About a half billion, right?

And then there’s this, by Timothy O’Brien at Bloomberg News:

Dan Alexander, a senior editor at Forbes, has been covering Trump’s business interests since 2016 and has a new book out about the president’s financial conflicts of interest, “White House Inc.” Alexander, in a helpful tally he shared Sunday evening, estimates Trump’s total indebtedness to be about $1.1 billion. Now that’s more like it.

Oh, dear.

I have no idea what all of Trump’s properties are worth and if he could raise some money by selling them off. I’m guessing the value of all his properties added together would be a figure in the billions. But since his resort properties have been losing millions of dollars over the past several years, one wonders who would buy them.

David Atkins:

One fact stands out far above all the others in its staggering implications: Donald Trump is personally responsible for $421 million worth of loans coming due in the next few years. Not his business. Him. Personally. He has no means of repaying them. He already refinanced his few profitable properties, and sold off most of his stocks to stay afloat. He appears short on liquidity. And we still don’t know to whom he owes the money.

Trump may be the poorest man in America, for all we know.

This fact has frightening implications for public policy and national security. Even minor debts are a frequent reason for the government to deny a security clearance, for the obvious reason that indebted and financially desperate public servants make easy marks for bribery, blackmail and potential treason.

That’s the real issue, folks. His not paying taxes is small potatoes compared to his security vulnerabilities. It’s the debt, more than the nonpayment of taxes, that is the primary concern here. Because, it turns out, we still don’t know who holds that debt. Whoever holds that debt owns Trump. By extension, the secret creditor(s) owns us. And that creditor(s) is almost certainly a foreign entity. Or several foreign entities.

Alex Ward writes at Vox that we already knew foreign countries use Trump businesses to influence U.S. foreign policy. And you know Trump wouldn’t think twice about selling out the interests of the U.S. to reduce his liquidity issues. He’s probably already sold us all out.

Trump said last year that he was a “big fan of” President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an, but their relationship hit some snags over Ankara’s attacks on US allies in Syria and its unlawful imprisonment of an American pastor.

When US-Turkey ties were low, the Times recalled a few curiosities:

[In 2018,] a Turkish business group canceled a conference at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel; six months later, when the two countries were on better terms, the rescheduled event was attended by Turkish government officials. Turkish Airlines also chose the Trump National Golf Club in suburban Virginia to host an event [in 2017].

In other words, countries like Turkey can potentially find ways to Trump’s heart by ensuring money goes into his family’s pocket in hopes of altering US foreign policy. The Trump Organization, then, gives nations an unprecedented extra leverage point to influence an American president.

Ward has other examples of connections between foreign policy and Trump’s businesses. Trump is exceedingly easy to bribe, apparently. I wonder what he got for selling out the Kurds?

There are already a lot of gee-whiz articles out there detailing the absurd deductions and depreciations Trump took to reduce his taxes that don’t pass the smell test. He’s probably underpaid by many times more than $100 million, and his kids are in on it. Don’t forget that Trump probably is already being investigated for tax fraud by the Manhattan district attorney. More of those details will be coming out over the next few days, I have no doubt. But don’t lose sight of the bigger issue. The man needs to be kept away from foriegn policy decisions.

See Greg Sargent, Stunning new revelations about Trump’s taxes also expose a hidden weakness. But see also David Frum, Trump Just Lost Control of the Game.