By Jason Abbruzzese
President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared a national emergency over foreign threats to U.S. communications infrastructure and services, a move that comes amid growing tensions with China and some of its major technology and telecommunications companies.
The executive order pointed to “the threat posed by the unrestricted acquisition or use” of information technology made or supplied by people under control of “foreign adversaries.” No specific countries or companies were mentioned in the order.
The acquisition of U.S. companies by foreign countries, particularly China, in recent years has been the subject of renewed scrutiny over concerns that sensitive information, such as personal and potentially embarrassing personal details, could be taken and used in espionage efforts. Most recently, the Chinese gaming company Kunlun said it had agreed to a request by the U.S. government to sell the popular gay dating app Grindr.
There has also been scrutiny of the use of foreign technology for important U.S. communications infrastructure, such as cell towers from Huawei, the Chinese technology giant that has become the target of U.S. legal action. The company’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, is currently being held in Canada on U.S. charges of violating sanctions on Iran.
Under the order, the federal government will be able to block foreign technology companies from doing business in the U.S., setting the groundwork for a unilateral ban on Huawei’s U.S. business interests. The U.S. government has already banned Huawei phones from military bases as well as the use of some Huawei telecommunications equipment.
The U.S. is not alone in its efforts to stem the growth of Chinese tech companies, particularly Huawei, which is the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications equipment. Numerous countries including Australia and Japan have banned Huawei from having any part in the building of next-generation wireless networks known as 5G. Scrutiny of Huawei in the U.S. has also had bipartisan support, with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., calling Huawei equipment “extraordinarily dangerous.”
But those bans also put countries at risk in falling behind the global race to build new 5G networks, which are seen by experts as the key to a variety of futuristic technologies including self-driving cars. The U.S. is generally considered to be lagging China in the development of 5G technology, though some experts disagree.
Trump has previously called for greater investment in 5G technology.
“American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind,” Trump tweeted in February.
Boris Johnson ‘RULES OUT’ alliance with Nigel Farage despite Brexit Party surge in poll
BORIS JOHNSON “categorically ruled out” forming a pact with Nigel Farage despite the Brexit Party looks set to become one of the leading movements in British politics, according to a source.
Deutsche Bank employees reportedly flagged suspicious transactions involving Trump and Kushner
By Allan Smith
Anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank flagged multiple transactions involving Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, from 2016 and 2017. Those specialists recommended the activity be reported to the federal government’s financial crimes unit, The New York Times reported Sunday.
But top executives at the global financial giant rejected that advice, current and former employees told The Times.
The transactions that came under review “set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity,” five current and former Deutsche Bank employees told The Times. Those transactions were then reviewed by the bank’s compliance staff, who prepared suspicious activity reports that they felt should be sent to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Those reports were never filed, The Times reported, adding that the nature of the transactions was unclear, though at least some of them involved foreign entities or individuals, which raised red flags with bank employees. The Times noted that those red flags “did not necessarily mean the transactions were improper.”
Over the past few years, Deutsche Bank has been punished by both U.S. and European authorities for its role in money laundering schemes, paying hundreds of millions in fines as a result. The bank has a substantial relationship with Trump, as it was the only major financial institution to continue lending to Trump after he went through a financial downturn in the 1990s. Deutsche Bank lent Trump and his businesses more than $2.5 billion and, when he became president, the bank held more than $300 million in Trump’s debt.
“We have increased our anti-financial crime staff and enhanced our controls in recent years and take compliance with the (anti-money laundering) laws very seriously,” Kerrie McHugh, a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman, said in a statement. “An effective (anti-money laundering) program requires sophisticated transaction screening technology as well as a trained group of individuals who can analyze the alerts generated by that technology both thoroughly and efficiently.”
“At no time was an investigator prevented from escalating activity identified as potentially suspicious,” she said. “Furthermore, the suggestion that anyone was reassigned or fired in an effort to quash concerns relating to any client is categorically false.”
Tammy McFadden, a former anti-money laundering specialist at Deutsche Bank who reviewed some of the transactions, told The Times that she was moved to a different department at the bank after she raised the concerns before she was fired last year.
“You present them with everything, and you give them a recommendation, and nothing happens,” McFadden told The Times. “It’s the D.B. way. They are prone to discounting everything.”
In 2016, McFadden reviewed a series of transactions involving Kushner’s real estate company, Kushner Companies, that were flagged by the bank’s software system. McFadden told The Times that she found that money had moved from the real estate company to Russians and felt the transactions needed to be reported to the Treasury Department — particularly as Deutsche Bank had come under intense scrutiny for its involvement in Russian money laundering schemes.
But bank managers in New York felt McFadden’s concerns were unwarranted and did not send a report to the federal government, employees told The Times.
Then, after Trump became president, an internal anti-financial crime team reviewed the president’s transactions and “produced multiple suspicious activity reports involving different entities that Mr. Trump owned or controlled,” three former bank employees who saw the reports told The Times.
The reports involved Trump’s LLC’s and the now-defunct Trump Foundation. But, as The Times reported, the bank chose not to file those reports as well.
Congress and the New York Attorney General are investigating Trump’s relationship with the bank and have subpoenaed the financial institution for records related to the president, his family, and their businesses. Deutsche Bank has begun turning over documents to the New York Attorney General, while Trump and his family last month sued Deutsche Bank to block it from producing records to House Democrats.
Amanda Miller, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, told The Times: “We have no knowledge of any ‘flagged’ transactions with Deutsche Bank,” adding that the company has “no operating accounts with Deutsche Bank.”
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment from NBC News.
Karen Zabarsky, a Kushner Companies spokeswoman, told the Times: “Any allegations regarding Deutsche Bank’s relationship with Kushner Companies which involved money laundering is completely made up and totally false.”
“The New York Times continues to create dots that just don’t connect,” she added.
House Democrats quickly highlighted the report.
“As more and more damning evidence against @realDonaldTrump comes into public view, it becomes clear why he is hiding information from the American people and blowing off Congress,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., tweeted. “If Congress cannot gather evidence, we need to seriously consider an impeachment inquiry.”
“This report makes Congress’s investigations of Trump’s shadowy finances more pressing,” Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., tweeted. “The bank has even more questions to answer and Congress needs to hear from this whistleblower.”
Forida governor says Trump told him undocumented immigrants won’t be shipped to his state
By Allan Smith, Christopher Nelson and Dareh Gregorian
President Donald Trump spoke with Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., on Saturday and informed him that the federal government won’t be sending undocumented immigrants into his state, a DeSantis spokesperson told NBC News in a Sunday statement.
That comes after Florida officials demanded answers about a Department of Homeland Security plan to release 1,000 “unlawful immigrants and asylum-seekers” per month into two largely Democratic counties in the state.
“President Trump said he did not approve of such a plan and would not authorize it,” Helen Aguirre Ferre, a DeSantis spokesperson, told NBC News. “Governor DeSantis was never notified by federal authorities that such a plan was in place.”
DeSantis, a close ally of Trump and a fellow Republican, had called the proposal “not acceptable.”
The plan came under fire after local law enforcement said late last week that Customs and Border Protection informed them the asylum seekers would be brought to Florida within weeks. A CBP official told reporters Friday that such a move was not imminent and there may have been miscommunication.
The plan emerged as Trump has been talking about sending undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers to so-called sanctuary cities in retaliation for Democrats blocking his immigration policies.
On Sunday, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the agency was not going to send migrants to the two Florida counties, overwhelmingly Democratic Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
“No, we’re using the southwest border sectors for additional capacity,” McAleenan told CBS, adding that officials scrapped the plan on Saturday.
McAleenan said DHS is looking to move people to additional locations, however, as Texas facilities are at capacity.
On Saturday, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said “it appears that Border Patrol has backed off its initial plans to transport a thousand illegal immigrants to South Florida.”
“Because of everybody’s efforts, we are able to stop what had appeared to be a crisis for our community,” Bradshaw said. “We will continue to monitor this situation and if there are any changes we will let you know. But you need to know that we stand ready to protect you, keep you safe, and adjust to anything that is going to happen in this community that affects your quality of life.”
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