Donald Trump’s vanity finally collided head on with his inherent ignorance when he tinkered with the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Deep inside this act lurks a locked and cocked .44 Magnum disguised as an unrelated piece of boring regulatory legislation about locking up money launderers.
The wily congressional solons’ who put it there must have known that if the proposal to seek out money launderers was a standalone bill it would attract distraught lawyers and lobbyists representing high-end real estate developers like locusts on a wheat field. To avoid that kind of confrontation, they cleverly buried their proposal in the $740.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021.
On Dec. 13, after the proposed law passed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky) muster, Trump telegraphed his support for the legislation. Either Trump didn’t understand the implications of the obscure rider or he didn’t think it applied to him. It is not even beyond the realm of possibility to think Trump offered his support for a law that could muddy his future without ever intending to let it see the light of day.
The rider is called the Corporate Transparency Act. The transparency it ostensibly provides comes from a stiff new law intended to let investigators see inside the murky realm of nefarious straw companies and their crime bosses who need to launder a few million bucks now and then.
If the NDAA for fiscal year 2021 is passed into law, the Corporate Transparency Act will require Americans and American-based foreign entrepreneurs who are creating new companies in the USA to file a report naming who owns what with the Fed’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen). The Feds want to know about everybody who possesses more than 25 percent of the reported entity.
FinCen is actually the U.S. Financial Intelligence Unit. Its agents are charged with running down money launderers working behind straw parties who own fictitious companies set up solely to hide taxable money from authorities.
If the transparency act works as advertised — and that is a big if — it might cause Trump a lot of problems when he slithers back into civilian life without the myriad legal protections being president provides.
Trump should have known better than to tamper with things nobody in his regime completely understands. Now his problem is out in the open. For 59 years the NDAA has almost automatically funded the housekeeping chores of America’s gigantic military establishment, quietly paying for the beans, bread and bullets it needs to be an overwhelming military force.
In Republican circles, it is deemed most unpatriotic to mess with the fuel powering the military-industrial complex. Trump, perhaps unknowingly, is messing with the engine that, for better or worse, powers American technology and its companion weapons industries.
On Dec. 11, 2020, with a veto-proof majority of 84 to 13, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing the 1,480 page NDAA for Fiscal Year 2021. Trump refused to sign it with something titled Section 230 left undisturbed. The obscure section provides internet publishers legal immunity from third-party people bashers. Trump, who is routinely wounded by social media shaming, says he is adamant about smashing the proposed law that permits his pain.
It is alarming to watch 74-year-old Trump throwing hissy fits because Facebook and Twitter are publicly grading his daily outbursts for veracity. He almost always fails.
Politically, Trump should never have done it either, but sadly he still doesn’t understand that he isn’t a king.
The $740.5 billion bill Trump vetoed includes $636.4 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget, $25.9 billion for national security programs within the Department of Energy (nuclear weapons) and $69 billion for the “Overseas Contingency Operations, ” the so-called black ops that nobody ever heard of and probably never will.
In the world before Trump, the NDAA was packaged and sold as an automatically reoccurring institution that assures America’s warriors will have the tools they need to subjugate whomever the U.S. deems unsavory. Unlike most new laws, the voluminous bill can’t be reduced to a digestible PowerPoint, meme, or clever repartee, — barely anybody actually knows what is really in the entire spending bill.
As of this writing, the full Senate intends to vote to override Trump’s veto before the New Year. Behind the scenes Senate Majority Leader McConnell and his minions are working on a way to discretely kill Section 230, a prized pillar in the tech industry’s liability shield that was built into the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
McConnell also know that if they manage to do that, the Democrats could block passage of the entire defense package.
The Feds like to say America is the easiest place in the world for criminals to organize ambiguous shell companies for the purpose of laundering money, evading taxes, and engaging in illegal payoffs. This latest proposal is aimed at both domestic and international offenders that use shell companies in the United States to hide their money.
Documents leaked from FinCen to journalists last fall revealed that American-based shell companies were moving money for criminals operating out of Russia, China, Iran, and Syria. Trump probably knew that already.
Law enforcement at federal and state levels know the Trump family uses shell companies to conduct their nefarious business. Defamed Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress that he used a shell company to pay off pole shining Stormy Daniels after her tryst with Trump. More recently, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, approved a shell company that spent more than $600 million in campaign funds for his losing Daddy-In-Law.
The next thing Trump needs desperately to discover is that under this proposed law, willfully failing to provide complete and current information mandated by the proposed act carries steep civil and criminal consequences, including prison time. Of course legal hassles have never been an insurmountable problem for any of the Trumps.
But in just 21 days, America will start finding out for sure.