Trump’s and Bannon’s alternate world

In a reality-based world, the recent video summit between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping may have gone, in part, something like the following . . .

Xi: “Mr. President, my old friend, our two nations appear to both be plagued by pretenders to political power.”

Biden: “Please tell me more, President Xi.”

Xi: “You have your predecessor, Mr. Trump, claiming on social media to be the current 45th President of your country. I am plagued by a citizen of this country, Guo Wengui, who, along with your predecessor’s chief strategist, Mr. Steve Bannon, has established a so-called ‘New Federal State of China’ in New York City. Guo is wanted by my nation for a host of crimes, including bribery, banking fraud, sexual assault, and kidnapping. We have issued under INTERPOL a Red Notice for Guo’s arrest by your authorities and his immediate extradition to China.”

Biden: “I’m aware of both of these issues.”

Xi: “We should cooperate, then, in ensuring that such illegal pretenders like your predecessor and Guo and Bannon are in no position to further disrupt international relations.”

Biden: “I will take your concerns under advisement and my staff will be in contact with your people to come to a mutual accommodation.”

In a world governed by sanity, that, or something like it, would have been part of the conversation between Biden and Xi.

Trump, Bannon, and Guo have been playing an actual game of “Risk.” Trump, who claims on letterhead to be the current “45th President,” recently upset a diplomatic apple cart by sending his former ambassador to Germany and acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, to the Balkans. Trump claimed that Grenell was his “envoy ambassador,” dispatched by the Mar-a-Lago-based rival claimant to the presidency to pursue a reduction in tension between Serbia and Kosovo.

The dispatching of Grenell as an American “envoy ambassador” represents a clear violation by Trump and Grenell of the Logan Act of 1799, which states: “Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

Trump’s pronouncement of Grenell’s shadow diplomacy in the Balkans was met with a terse response from the Biden White House: “Outside of his very active imagination, Donald Trump is no longer President and doesn’t have any ‘envoy ambassadors’ representing the United States.”

In addition to traveling to Serbia and Kosovo, where Grenell spoke at a press conference on the Merdare border crossing between the two countries, Grenell also visited Albania, where he met with President Ilir Meta [right].

Trump and Grenell are not authorized to act on behalf of the United States any more than Bannon’s billionaire patron, Guo, is authorized to represent China with his “Himalaya embassy” at East 64th Street in Manhattan, Himalaya Coin cryptocurrency, “New Federal State of China” flag, and other pretenses of sovereignty. Nor do Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, and Guo’s “embassy” in New York have any legal status as protected entities under, respectively, the U.S. Constitution and international law. However, it is certain that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s current attempt to nullify federal work health and safety and other laws in his state is a step toward declaring Trump’s adopted state of Florida to be somehow outside of federal jurisdiction, a terra nullius floridiana.

The December 26, 1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States stipulates that a sovereign state must possess, at a minimum, the following attributes: a permanent population; a defined territory; a government; and a capacity to enter into relations with other recognized states. Neither Trump’s compounds at Mar-a-Lago nor Bedminster constitute sovereign entities from which he can engage in his own foreign policy. Nor does Guo’s and Bannon’s fantasy Chinese government in midtown Manhattan carry any legality under international law.

It is clear that Trump attempted to provide some degree of legitimacy to his claim that he remains president by extending for six months Secret Service protection for his family and two of his administration’s officials. As a former president, Trump and his wife receive lifetime Secret Service protection, but Trump extended it for his adult children and their spouses, including Ivanka Trump; her husband, Jared Kushner; son Donald Trump Jr.; son Eric Trump and his wife, Lara Trump; and daughter Tiffany Trump. For six months and a cost of $1.7 million of taxpayers’ money, Trump’s family, as well as former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — who remained as Trump’s personal assistant — and former national security adviser Robert O’Brien, received Secret Service protection as though they were still the part of an administration.

In June 2021, Mnuchin and his Secret Service detail traveled to Israel; Doha, Qatar; and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in the manner of a still-serving Cabinet official. Likewise, Kushner traveled in May 2021 to Abu Dhabi with his Secret Service team. Meadows had his own Secret Service team on trips to Mar-a-Lago in Florida and North Carolina. This waste of taxpayers’ money had nothing at all to with security and everything to do with giving the impression that Trump and his top officials represented some sort of rival presidency or “government-in-exile.”

Rival claimants to national office constitute major destabilization factors. It was the dual inaugurations in March 2020 of two rival presidents in Afghanistan — Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah — that ultimately led to the collapse of the government and the Taliban takeover in August. A month earlier, Guinea-Bissau was further destabilized by the swearing in of two rival presidential claimants, Umaro Cissoko Embalo and Domingos Simoes Pereira, both of whom installed rival prime ministers. Unless the Biden administration wishes for the United States to fall further into Third World-style instability, it should put a quick end to Trump’s trappings of running a rival presidential administration, even if that includes indicting him for insurrection and sedition and jailing him until trial as a flight risk.

As far as Guo’s and Bannon’s China government-in-exile in New York, it should be shut down. Under international law, the United States recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of China. Guo’s and Bannon’s attempts to negotiate with third countries on behalf of their fantasy Chinese government stands to complicate Chinese and American relations with various countries, including Greece, Malta, the United Arab Emirates, Mongolia, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Japan, India, and other nations, which is not in the interests of either the United States or China.

It is time for the administration, the actual and legal one presided over by President Biden, to make it quite clear to the illegal claimant to the Oval Office in Mar-a-Lago that any further attempts by him to conduct his own foreign policy will be met with an indictment for violating the Logan Act. As for Guo Wengui, Bannon’s Chinese “Daddy Warbucks,” his political asylum status in the United States should be voided and U.S. Marshals should escort him to the next outbound plane to China.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2021

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and nationally-distributed columnist. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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