Former intelligence officials worry Trump debt is counterintelligence risk
Some former intelligence officials are saying the alleged $421 million of debt owed by President Trump over the next four years could pose national security risks, Time magazine reported Tuesday.
Officials told Time that Trump, who the New York Times reported is in an audit fight with the IRS that could cost him an additional $100 million, could be easily influenced by those he owes money.
“For a person with access to U.S. classified information to be in massive financial debt is a counterintelligence risk because the debt-holder tends to have leverage over the person, and the leverage may be used to encourage actions, such as disclosure of information or influencing policy, that compromise U.S. national security,” said David Kris, former head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division and founder of Culper Partners consulting firm.
Robert Cardillo, former deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and former director of National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, told Time that if Trump is reelected in November, the president could face “personal financial pressure [that] could adversely affect U.S. national security decisions.”
Cardillo last week wrote an op-ed published in The Denver Post warning about Trump’s “erratic” behavior.
Trump has continuously resisted releasing his tax returns to the public since the 2016 election, defying a decades-long tradition among presidential candidates. He has claimed that an IRS audit prevents him from sharing these documents with the public.
The Times investigative reporting also showed that Trump and his companies paid thousands of dollars in taxes in 2017 to Panama, India and the Philippines, despite only paying $750 in federal taxes that same year.
Former Director of Intelligence James Clapper told Time that the new concerns following the release of the Times reporting adds to longtime “suspicion” that Trump has been influenced by foreign powers and “that the Russians were bankrolling him.”
“If he were a ‘normal’ employee, that would certainly be a counterintelligence vulnerability. It’s frightening all around,” Clapper said.
Trump has since denied the Times reporting, saying in a press conference on Sunday that it was “totally fake news.”
“I paid a lot, and I paid a lot of state income taxes too,” Trump said. “It’ll all be revealed. It’s all going to come out,” referencing an earlier claim that the public would eventually see his tax returns once the IRS audit is complete.
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