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Where’s The Gold!? Is Fort Knox Empty?

 I have written several postings related to Various topics including the military, Voting, the economy, religion and etc in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional issues in these topics.

I have been coming across more and more rumors that soldiers guarding Fort Knox may be guarding nothing but dust bunnies. If this is the case, where’s the gold? What does this mean if anything for our economy? We no longer have a gold standard, so why does it matter if we are holding onto the gold? I mentioned in a previous article that there is simply not enough gold reserves in the world to allow for our world to go on the gold standard. We are trillions of dollars short. So lets discuss this new mystery and why hasn’t anyone been allowed to enter the vault in over 40 years?

According to the United States Mint, which is officially in charge of the nation’s gold, here are the facts.

Amount of present gold holdings: 147.3 million ounces.

The only gold removed has been very small quantities used to test the purity of gold during regularly scheduled audits. Except for these samples, no gold has been transferred to or from the Depository for many years.

The gold is held as an asset of the United States at book value of $42.22 per ounce.

The Depository opened in 1937; the first gold was moved to the depository in January that year.

This ends the entry: “The Depository is a classified facility. No visitors are permitted, and no exceptions are made.”

The type of gold inside the U.S. Bullion Depository ranges from large amounts of gold barsgold coins and a variety of rare coins, including at least ten legendary 1933 Double Eagle coins.

In 1974, after the US closed the gold window, congressional support grew for inquiring into the US gold stock. The Mint and the GAO were sanctioned to audit a portion of the Treasury’s gold. Three out of thirteen compartments at Fort Knox were audited for inventory and samples were assayed and compared to records currently held by the Mint. Following this partial audit the Treasury created the Committee for Continuing Audits of the United States Government-owned Gold in 1975 to annually inspect the accuracy and adequacy of the Mint’s records and internal procedures. These inspections involved auditing about 10% of the US Mint’s gold annually in an attempt to cycle through the whole gold stock. By 1986, the Treasury’s Inspector General managed to halt the audits under the notion that most of the Mint’s gold had already been audited, about 92%, and sealed and no significant issues were yet found. The costs of the procedures were also a stated concern in the halting of continuing audits.

Since then, starting in the 90’s under 31 U.S.C. §3515, the audits were mostly indirect efforts as the Mint’s financial statements and Custodial Schedule are annually audited by public accountants at KPMG. There still existed some audit-work that was partially direct up until 2008 by the Treasury OIG as their annual assessments of the mint’s Custodial Schedule statement included direct checks of statistical samples, using a 95% confidence criterion, to verify the number of gold bars in each melt, the melt number for each gold bar, and the fineness stamped on each gold bar.

But what of the official annual audits of the Federal Reserve System, conducted by accounting firms hired by the Federal Reserve System and conducted under rules established by the FED?

By 2008, the Treasury OIG proclaimed that all 42 of the Mint’s gold compartments, or 100% of the Mint’s gold, were audited and sealed. As a result, all audits since 2008 only involved checking that the joint seals remain intact. None of the audits by KPMG, GAO or the Treasury OIG include an inventory or assay of any of the 5% of the Treasury’s total gold that is stored at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, or the Treasury’s working stock of gold. The extent to which the US Treasury attempts to verify their gold holdings in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York involves annually requesting a confirmation from the Federal Reserve regarding the status of US gold reserves held by the FRBNY. Furthermore none of the audits that occurred in the past fully assess the Treasury’s compliance with outstanding legislation with regard to their use of their gold.

Congress doesn’t want to know the details of all this. It does not insist that the Government Accountability Office conduct an ongoing annual audit with random ingot testing. Why not? Congress doesn’t say. Ron Paul has called for a full audit of the gold in Fort Knox. This has fallen on deaf ears.

Why not pay the debt off with the money?

At a current price of about $1776 per ounce, this is worth 261.6 billion dollars. This comes very short of getting the US out of its 14.7 trillion national debt – the gold holdings are worth less than 1.5 percent of the U.S. Public Debt. So even if Fort Knox held all the gold ever mined in the world, estimated at 185,000 tons, at current prices this would be worth only 10.5 trillion dollars, still less than 72% of the national debt.


What does it matter whether the gold is there? It is kept on the books at $42.22 per ounce, an economically irrelevant figure.

The gold is not redeemable. No one can present a legal claim to have a specified amount of gold delivered at a legally fixed price.

It does not circulate. It is not sold or leased, we are assured by the Federal Reserve System. It just sits there, unused. It has no economic purpose.

Why not sell it?

What if the Mint minted it into American tenth-ounce gold eagle coins?

American voters should demand that they, as citizens, be given the right to buy tenth-ounce American eagles at $42.22 per ounce. That would restore power to the people. It would also be a nice bonus for being an American citizen. You would have to have a proof of citizenship to order your coins at this price.

This would drive down gold’s market price for a while, but not by much and not for long. It is generally estimated that all central banks hold less than 20% of all the mined gold. The United States government’s share of central bank gold is about 26% So, the US government holds 5% of the world’s available gold. But it would take several years for the Mint to mint all of this gold into coins. So, the effect on the price of gold would be minimal and temporary. I favor the “for sale at $42.22 to Americans only” sales program. But what if the government just sold all of the gold at a fire sale in the available bars? Asians would rejoice. Americans would not buy much of it at a market price.

Why would this damage the U.S. government? The gold is not held as a reserve for the money supply. The dollar’s price domestically in goods and services is not tied in any way to gold.

Why would this damage the American people? Most Americans own no gold. It would drop the price of gold for a time, harming present investors in gold. Why would that bother anyone inside the Washington Beltway?

It would help gold users. It would help reduce the government’s debt. The money generated could be used to pay off the federal debt. Unlikely? Then at least reduce the federal deficit.

In short, why is there resistance to such a move? If gold is a barbarous relic, as John Maynard Keynes insisted, then why not transfer the confiscated gold back to the people who have good uses for it?


Central banks still hold gold, despite the fact that it pays no rate of interest — rather like U.S. Treasury bills today. The textbooks insist that such behavior is irrational. What is the reason for this seemingly irrational behavior?

It gets even more irrational. Central banks are widely believed to lease (sell) their gold to profit-seeking large banks, called bullion banks, so that these banks can profit on the interest rate spread. The bullion banks keep billions of dollars of profits that central banks could have received by selling the gold and investing the currencies.

This policy makes sense only on this presupposition: central banks are the operational agents of the largest commercial banks. Central banks are there to make money for bullion banks.

Do central banks lease their gold in this way? It is hard to say. Gold is still held by central banks, at least officially. So, they may have leased it to bullion banks, but the textbooks never mention this possibility. Alan Greenspan did, but only once, and only briefly. “Nor can private counterparties restrict supplies of gold, another commodity whose derivatives are often traded over-the-counter, where central banks stand ready to lease gold in increasing quantities should the price rise.”

The Federal Reserve has asserted that gold swaps are legal.

Central banks keep IOUs from bullion banks on the books as if the gold were there. The International Monetary Fund has authorized this form of accounting. In a series of emails between the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA), the IMF representative admitted this in 2001.

Why does the IMF insist that members record swapped gold as an asset when a legal change in ownership has occurred? This is not correct: the IMF in fact recommends that swapped gold be excluded from reserve assets.

So, it is possible that the gold in Fort Knox was swapped by the Federal Reserve to foreign central banks, which in turn leased the gold to private bullion banks at 1% per year or less, enabling those banks to sell the gold, get any currency, and invest it at six percent or more.

If this seems far-fetched, consider the other reason for storing all that gold.


Central banks hold gold. Why?

In every textbook used in colleges, whether Keynesian, monetarist, or public choice, we are given reasons why gold is not necessary or advisable as a monetary metal. The Party Line of the economics departments of all stripes is this: (1) central banking is not really a cartel, even though it looks like one; (2) every economy needs a central bank to protect the people from politicians, who would inflate; (3) gold is a liability as a monetary metal because it keeps central banks from inflating.

The textbook Party Line is simple to summarize: “Central banking is reliable; politicians and the general public are not.”

Then why hold gold at all? Why not sell it and buy Treasury bills or bonds? Why not buy the bonds of lots of other nations? The bonds pay interest.

Could it be because the economic return on these bonds is risky? Could it be that central bankers never did trust PIIGS debt? Could it be that they regard the long-term value of gold as more stable than the long-term value of other currencies?

This would indicate that the experts in charge of monetary policy have adopted ideas not discussed in textbooks.

1. Gold is more reliable than fiat money.
2. Gold functions as money for central banks.
3. Gold is not a barbarous relic.
4. Central banks with gold reserves are trusted.
5. Gold is a symbol of central bank reliability.

Any of these answers would apply just as well to a commercial bank. They would apply to private citizens.

The textbooks ridicule such a suggestion. But the textbooks also avoid asking this question: “If gold is just another commodity, then why do central banks hold it as a legal reserve?” There is no gold redeem ability. No central banks pay gold on demand to anyone, including other central banks. They did prior to August 1, 1914, but not today.

What is it about central bankers? Have they lost their ability to think through the principles of economics that they were taught in America’s best universities? Have they not adopted the logic of economics?

It is clear that they have not bought into the textbook Party Line. Neither should anyone else.


If the gold is in Fort Knox, we should ask: “Why?”

By the standards of modern economics textbooks, this hoarding of gold is irrational. It is the holdover of pre-Keynesian, pre-monetarist economic theory. It is a barbarous relic — in the thinking of central bankers.

The presence of gold in Fort Knox would testify to the fact that the senior central bankers of the most powerful nation on earth have never bought into the Party Line of the textbooks.

Why did Nixon close the gold window in 1971? To preserve the remaining supply of the government’s gold, or at least preserve the illusion of this gold.

Why didn’t he just let central banks buy all of it? At least the government would have gotten $42.22 per ounce.

If voters want the gold in Fort Knox to stay in Fort Knox, then we should conclude one of three things: (1) they are economically irrational or ill-informed; (2) the textbook writers are economically irrational or ill-informed; (3) they haven’t spotted a deal: buying gold at $42.22 per ounce.

Let’s get back to the prime question, is Fort Knox empty?

Do we even have any gold reserves anymore in the United States?   And if not, what is backing the United State’s dollar?  These are the questions that many people are asking lately of our nation’s economic security and the answers may be downright scary for all of us.

Is America Broke? 

The biggest question mark of all has been why no one has been able to see the gold for almost 40 years now.  The last time anyone had access to inspect the deposits was on September 23, 1974.  Members of Congress and news media were allowed access on that date and pictures were taken of the vaults with the gold deposits intact.  Ever since that day, there has not been anyone allowed access to confirm the gold amounts that are supposedly stored at the Fort.

Did audit reveal missing gold 

Recently a team of Congressmen from several key states have been trying to gain access to Fort Knox for a visual inspection and confirmation of the gold reserves stored there.  According to several of the Congressmen, they are having a difficult time even getting responses out of the United States Treasury and Mint departments and when they do, they are denied immediately.

When we asked the government we got this reply:

Fort Knox is used to store a large portion of United States official gold reserves and occasionally other precious items belonging or entrusted to the federal government. The exact amount of bullion stored at Fort Knox is classified, known only to the United States Treasury and the United States Department of Defence.

As always I try to cover all the bases in my articles. So far most of the research I have come across points to the fact that there is little to no gold left in Fort Knox. However, the following article by James Rickards points in the opposite direction.

The Truth About the Fort Knox Gold

One of the little-known items on the Fed’s balance sheet is a vital asset it received from the U.S. Treasury a long time ago…

During the Great Depression, in 1933, President Roosevelt issued an executive order requiring anyone with gold to surrender it to a Federal Reserve bank or any member bank of the Federal Reserve system.

The Federal Reserve banks also required the commercial banks to hand over their gold to the Fed. Now, suddenly, the gold went out of the commercial banks into the Federal Reserve Bank.

But under the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, the Fed was ordered to surrender all its gold to the Treasury Department. All the nation’s gold in effect came under direct government ownership.

Now, this is key: The Federal Reserve is actually a private system, while the Treasury is an arm of the U.S. government. And the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution prevents the government from taking private property without just compensation.

To get around that legality, the “just compensation” was a gold certificate the Treasury issued to the Fed in exchange for its physical gold.

To this day, the Fed carries that gold certificate on its balance sheet.

The Treasury officially values its gold at $42 an ounce. That was the official gold price from 1973, two years after the U.S. abandoned the Bretton Woods system. Of course, the market price of gold today is almost $1,300 an ounce.

But if you take the face value of the gold on the Fed balance sheet, divide it by $42 an ounce and then come up with a number of ounces and convert that into tons, it comes out to over 8,000 tons.

That’s highly interesting, because that’s how much gold the Treasury currently owns.

The Treasury needs at least 8,000 tons of gold to back up that paper certificate it handed the Fed back in the 1930s to satisfy the Fifth Amendment.

If you take the 8,000 tons on the Fed balance sheet in the form of this gold certificate, market to market at $1,300, that mounts to well over $300 billion.

So the secret to the Fed’s balance sheet is its “hidden gold asset,” that gold certificate it received from the Treasury in the 1930s.

Nobody talks about this or admits it. But our whole system is based on gold.

But what about the gold in Fort Knox? Is it actually there?

There is a lot of confusion on this subject.

First off, Fort Knox was built in 1937 partly to house gold that the Treasury was scooping up after the Gold Reserve Act took effect. The gold had been kept it in vaults in the basement of the Treasury. But they ran out of space, so they built Fort Knox to house the gold.

Many gold bugs and conspiracy theorists say there is no actual gold in Fort Knox. They say the reason the government will not audit the gold, for example, is because the gold is not there.

But the truth is quite the opposite.

If you are the Fed or the Treasury and you want people to think that gold is unimportant — which they do — why would you audit it?

You audit things that are important. You do not audit things that are unimportant. If the Fed doesn’t want you to think that gold is important, it follows that they would not audit it. Auditing it pays gold too much respect.

I am in favor of an audit, just to be clear. But the fact that the government does not audit the gold does not tell you that the gold is not there. They just do not want you to pay any attention to it.

But is the gold actually in Fort Knox?

Let me say it right now: Yes, the gold is there. I actually have some evidence that the gold is there from military sources.

Incidentally, most people think all the Treasury gold is in Fort Knox. But that is not correct. A little more than half the gold is at Fort Knox, but the rest is stored at West Point on the Hudson River in New York.

People will occasionally ask me who controls the gold. Is it the Fed or the Treasury?

The real answer is neither. The U.S. Army actually controls the gold because both Fort Knox and West Point are Army bases. The Army has it under lock and key. But it technically belongs to the Treasury.

Now, some people like billionaire precious metals trader Eric Sprott argue that the gold could very well be at Fort Knox, but it’s been leased out to commercial banks. And yes, it could very well be leased. But leasing is a paper transaction. It doesn’t mean the government surrenders possession of the gold.

If JPMorgan, for example, leases gold from the U.S. Treasury, it does not mean that they back up a truck in Fort Knox and drive the gold away. There is no need for that. It is just a paper transaction. The gold could be sitting there on a shelf in Fort Knox and still be leased out and unaudited.

Now, once JPMorgan has the gold they will sell it at times 100 to gold investors who think they have bought actual gold. But what they really have is what is called unallocated gold. Unallocated gold is a euphemism for no gold.

If you call up JPMorgan and tell them you want to buy a million dollars worth of gold, they’ll agree to it. And they’ll send you a confirmation saying you own a million dollars worth of gold subject to the contract. But if you read the fine print, it says is your gold is unallocated.

That means they do not claim to have any specific bar with a serial number or your name on it. In reality they have taken the same bar of gold and sold it to 100 different investors.

Now, that’s not a problem unless all 100 parties show up at once and ask for their gold. The first person may get the gold, but the other 99 people are going get their contracts terminated. They will receive a check for the value of gold at the close of business the previous day. But they are not going to get the gold they thought they were buying.

That is when you discover that JPMorgan does not have the gold.

The bottom line is that I have seen no proof that the gold is not in Fort Knox; and I have seen proof that the gold is actually there.

A lot of it could very well be leased out, and that leads to confusion about whether or not the government actually has the gold. But all the evidence tells me that the gold is in Fort Knox and at West Point.

And if you were the United States of America, why would you let the gold out of your sight?


What would happen if it was revealed that there isn’t actually much gold left in Fort Knox?

Two things: It would be impossible and it would be irrelevant

First thing: To sell all (or even most) of the gold in Fort Knox would require hundreds of people working to make that happen. In secret, as any such operation would invite Congressional and media scrutiny It would also flood the world markets with gold, thus depressing its price. That fact also wouldn’t escape media scrutiny and MANY questions would be asked,

Second thing: It would be irrelevant as Richard Nixon took the US off the gold standard more than 40 years ago. The currency of the US is backed up by the value commerce and enterprise of the US, not by its gold reserves alone.

In fact, if the US currency was still tied to the value of the gold reserves alone, it would severely weaken an already weak economy. It also make the US currency subject to the whims of the two largest gold producers in the world, South Africa and Russia.

It’s time to sell tenth-ounce gold eagles to Americans at $42.22 per ounce. At $42.22 per ounce, a barbarous relic is a very good deal.

I think Americans have better uses for the gold than the government does.

This begs the question, is it the gold that is being protected or a far bigger secret? Jimmy Hoffa, aliens, gold, anthrax, or whatever is (or is not) inside the walls of Fort Knox is likely to remain a secret.

So just as I was going to wrap up this article I came across a couple of articles stating that Fort Knox finally opened its doors. I must tell you this is a bit anti-climatic. I am not sure why they did not show up in my earlier searches. Because frankly I would not have written this article. But as I stated several times before, I follow the facts. So I will post them below as a wrap up to this 40 year old mystery.

After 40 years, Fort Knox opens famed vault to civilians

Inside the famed vaults at Fort Knox, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held a 27-pound gold bar in his hands Monday as part of the first civilian delegation to see most of the country’s bullion reserves in more than 40 years.

But being surrounded by more than $186 billion worth of gold was no sweat for one of the country’s most powerful politicians

“It’s not even the annual funding level for some of our large departments in the federal government,” he said.

McConnell was part of a delegation of Kentucky politicians allowed inside the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox for the first time since 1974. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initiated the visit, along with U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie and Gov. Matt Bevin.

Most Read Nation & World Stories

The depository holds more than 147 million ounces of gold, which puts its market value at more than $186 billion. While primarily known as a vault for gold, the depository also held the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution during World War II.

Mnuchin said it was the first time Fort Knox opened its vaults to outsiders since a Congressional delegation and some journalists were let in to view the gold for the first time in 1974. McConnell said he had never thought about visiting Fort Knox before, but jumped at the chance when Mnuchin offered to take him.

“It just kind of came up as a result of a casual conversation,” McConnell said.

A movie producer before becoming treasury secretary, Mnuchin told a group of Louisville business leaders earlier in the day it was important for him to see the gold to attest that “it is part of our national assets.”

“I assume the gold is still there,” he said. “It would really be quite a movie if we walked in and there was no gold.”

In an interview, McConnell said he could not say much about the visit for security reasons. But Bevin, speaking on WHAS radio, divulged a few more details. He said it took “quite a bit of time” to get in and out of the facility, and said officials had to cut a seal to open the vault for them.

In addition to the gold bricks, Bevin said he got to hold a 1933 double eagle, a $20 gold coin that was never circulated. Bevin, who said he collected coins as a child, compared it to “seeing a leprechaun on a unicorn.”

“All I will say is that it is freakishly well secured,” he said. “The gold is safe.”

Resources, “If Ft. Knox Isn’t Empty.” By Gary North;, “Fort Knox and The Missing Gold!”;, “Fort Knox: A Depository of Gold or Secrets?”;, “The Truth About the Fort Knox Gold.” By James Rickards;,

“After 40 years, Fort Knox opens famed vault to civilians.” By Adam Beam;, “Photos and documents from Secretary Mnuchin’s Fort Knox trip released.” By Gregory Wallace;


The United States Bullion Depository Fort Knox, Kentucky

•Amount of present gold holdings: 147.3 million ounces.

•The only gold removed has been very small quantities used to test the purity of gold during regularly scheduled audits. Except for these samples, no gold has been transferred to or from the Depository for many years.

•The gold is held as an asset of the United States at book value of just $42.22 per ounce.

•The Depository opened in 1937; the first gold was moved to the depository in January that year.

•Highest gold holdings this century: 649.6 million ounces (December 31, 1941).

•Size of a standard gold bar: 7 inches x 3 and 5/8 inches x 1 and 3/4 inches.

•Weight of a standard gold bar: approximately 400 ounces or 27.5 pounds.

•In the past, the Depository has stored the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, three volumes of the Gutenberg Bible, and Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

What Is In Fort Knox?

While the depository is famous for holding the world’s largest hoard of gold, Fort Knox has also been home to many other treasures. Here are four items that have been stored inside Fort Knox.

1) Magna Carta

During World War II, one of four copies of the Magna Carta was held at Fort Knox for safekeeping until 1947.

2) The Constitution & The Declaration of Independence

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the original Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were moved from Washington, D.C. to Fort Knox. During their time at Fort Knox, 150 pounds of gear was used to protect the documents. Both were returned to the nation’s capital in 1944.

3) The Holy Crown of Hungary

The Holy Crown of Hungary served as the crown jewel of Fort Knox after it was transferred there for protection at the end of World War II. Of the course of Hungarian history, this crown has been worn by more than fifty kings since it was first used in a coronation ceremony in the 12th century.

4) Morphine & Opium

Perhaps the oddest item stored in Fort Knox is a cache of morphine and opium worth millions. The U.S. military wanted to ensure that they had enough of the painkiller if access to foreign opium sources were terminated. Even though the opium is no longer needed, it still calls Fort Knox home. In 1993, the United States spent millions refining the opium into morphine sulfate.

The Many Conspiracies Surrounding Fort Knox

There are theories that Fort Knox contains a lot of other things in addition to gold and morphine… or, perhaps, nothing at all. Common debunked conspiracy theories include the beliefs that within the walls of Fort Knox include Jimmy Hoffa’s body, biological weapons like anthrax, and the remains of the Roswell aliens.

The most popular conspiracy theory, however, is the belief that all of the gold inside Fort Knox has been removed or sold off. This theory seems to have taken root in the logic that the government has no reason to store gold nowadays since our currency is no longer based on the gold standard. Dating back to the mid-1970s, the idea that Fort Knox was empty was first spread by a lawyer named Peter David Beter, who spent quite a bit of time working as counsel for the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The theory that Fort Knox had been emptied out struck a chord with many Americans, leading to the U.S. Mint to allow a one-time tour of the depository. On September 23, 1974, Senator Walter Huddleston along with 12 other congressmen and 100 members of the press were granted access inside Fort Knox. The gold was reported to be present at the time, effectively squashing the conspiracy theory.

Over forty years later, this continues to be the one and only time that Fort Knox has been toured by members of the general public.

How Secure Is Fort Knox?

So, what does it take to protect all the gold in Fort Knox or the biggest secret in the history of the United States?

The Walls — The walls of Fort Knox are made of granite and are four feet thick. Many believe the walls are lined with cement, steel, and fire-proof material. It is believed that the walls could withstand a direct hit by an atomic bomb. The tinted glass windows are so dark that nobody can see in from the outside. The windows are also sealed from the inside out, fire-proof, and bullet-proof.

The Door — The front door weighs almost 22 tons and is composed of a blast-proof material. No single person can open the door. Instead, it must be opened in tandem with other people required to dial separate combinations, which are changed daily.

Layers of Security — The foundation of Fort Knox has 10 feet of granite on top of multiple layers of concrete. Every square inch of the facility is monitored by a multi-focus surveillance system. Here’s a quick rundown of what you would be facing:

  1. First, you’d have to make it through minefields or trip any exterior alarms.
  2. Then, you would have to make it over electrical fences covered in barbed wire.
  3. Succeed in the first two steps while somehow preventing yourself from being seen on video surveillance equipment or motion detectors, or be picked up on the undisclosed numbers of microphones hidden on the premises.
  4. If you have somehow succeeded, you would then be facing Thompson submachine guns located at four armed sentinel station on the ground level, as well as sentinel stations on the upper levels, too.
  5. And, this also doesn’t include all of the security guards monitoring the surrounding grounds at all times.
  6. Oh, and the depository is also located on the grounds of Fort Knox Army Post that houses over 30,000 soldiers.

Who Guards the Depository?

The facility is guarded by the United States Mint Police, and the Depository is within sight of Fort Knox Army Post, which is home to the 16th Calvary Regiment, 19th Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army Armor School, and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. In all, 30,000 soldiers and 300 tanks, and attack helicopters are available to defend the Depository against unwanted intruders.

Photos and documents from Secretary Mnuchin’s Fort Knox trip released

Treasury Secretary Steve MnuchinTreasury Department documentWashington CNN —  

Newly released documents shed light on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s $27,000 trip last year to Fort Knox, which allowed him two rare sights: the total solar eclipse from just outside the path of totality, and the government’s largest stockpile of gold.

The documents, released Thursday in response to a public records request from CNN, provide new details about the August 2017 trip, which was scrutinized by the department’s inspector general because it placed Mnuchin in a desirable location at the right time for viewing the solar eclipse.

Mnuchin said he visited Fort Knox with Kentucky elected officials to review the bullion depository containing government-owned gold, and the inspector general said it found no evidence of wrongdoing or that the trip “was chosen to coincide with the solar eclipse.”

When Mnuchin aides began planning the trip in June, they requested the Federal Aviation Administration provide an eight-passenger jet. The quote: $17,486.29.

Instead, Treasury officials requested a C-40 military aircraft, and the group ended up using an Air Force C-37B at a cost of $26,900.25, the records show – about $9,400 more than the FAA plane.

The inspector general’s report explained the reason behind the switch as “there was concern that the available FAA aircraft, a Cessna Citation, would be unusable if the runway at Godman Army Airfield (Ft. Knox’s facility) was wet,” but noted that “we have not independently verified this assertion.” The newly released internal treasury emails offer no discussion of the possibility of a wet runway.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellTreasury Department document

The email communications also do not reveal why the trip was rescheduled for the day of the eclipse, but the inspector general’s report notes that “six dates in mid-August were proposed to Leader McConnell and August 21 worked for everyone.”

Mnuchin has said he was not interested in the eclipse, but US Mint officials who hosted the visit went to the trouble of obtaining special glasses to protect viewers from eye damage. His aides scheduled the viewing for the best 15 minutes of the eclipse, and provided detailed notes in a briefing on the trip.

“Mint staff will lead the VIPs and their staff members to the roof of the facility to view the solar eclipse. Fort Knox is approximately 142 miles north of the ‘Path of Totality,’ ” the notes read. “The solar eclipse is projected to reach its maximum viewing potential at 2:30 pm. The Mint has procured viewing glasses for VIPs and their staff to view the eclipse safely.”

When it released the documents on Thursday, the Treasury Department took the unusual step of including a news release, which said Mnuchin had asked for the viewing to be canceled.

“Staff at the Mint had originally suggested that the delegation watch the eclipse from the roof of the Depository,” the statement reads. “Prior to the trip, the Secretary requested to cancel that part of the tour, however it inadvertently was left on the schedule. Upon realizing the schedule error on the way to Ft. Knox, the Secretary agreed to the delegation watching the eclipse briefly from outside the facility before entering.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who also attended, brought the trip to public attention that day when he posted a photo online that showed him holding the eclipse glasses. The news came at the time another official in President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, then-Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, was in the spotlight for spending $1 million for travel on private jets and military aircraft.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellTreasury Department document

Other Cabinet officials, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, would also come under scrutiny for their travel practices. The inspector general opened a review of Mnuchin’s travel spending that noted his staff requested a government plane for his honeymoon.

The honeymoon plane request – for a nine-day itinerary that included stops in Scotland, France and Italy – was among the records released Thursday.

“Throughout the trip, the Secretary needs to be able to monitor issues [redacted], and participate in scheduled [redacted] Secure Calls and potential NEC/NEC-PC meetings, among other Treasury responsibilities,” the request reads. It notes Treasury has “researched access to secure communications” and says another option, which was redacted, “would be substantially more costly to the USG than use of MilAir support.”

“A MilAir aircraft appears to be the most cost-effective means to ensure access to secure communications during this trip – both on-the-ground and in-transit,” the request continues.

Mnuchin later said the honeymoon request “had nothing to do with convenience,” and a Treasury spokesman said the request had been withdrawn “after a secure communications option was identified during the Secretary’s extended travel.”

The documents also include new details about Mnuchin’s activities at Fort Knox, where the Treasury stores a stockpile of gold with a market value it estimates at $190 billion. The vaults were last opened to the public in the 1970s, and the last treasury secretary visit was in 1948.

“Glad the gold is safe!” Mnuchin posted online after the visit.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinTreasury Department document

Following the eclipse viewing, Mnuchin, McConnell and a small number of other VIPs were allowed into storage compartments to see and hold the gold. They were accompanied by three Mint officials, including the “Chief of Mint Police,” who the schedule notes were required by federal regulations to attend.

“The two staff members from the IG [inspector general] and Mint will provide gloves to each VIP so they may handle one of the bars of gold,” the schedule reads. “A photographer from the Mint will be present to take photos each VIP standing inside the compartment holding a bar of gold with 25,000+ more bars of gold directly behind them.”

The gold bars may not be removed, it notes, but “each VIP will be given ample opportunity to see, inspect, and handle the gold while inside the compartment.”Mnuchin faces scrutiny over latest report

Blurry black and white copies of the photos were released with the documents. They show Mnuchin, McConnell and others holding bars of gold, and signing their names on a wall. The Freedom of Information Act office did not respond to a request for copies of the original photos, and a Treasury spokeswoman declined to provide them.

At the end of the tour, Mint and inspector general officials performed a multi-step process “to re-seal of the compartment.” All members of the group were required to “go through the general screening process” when entering and exiting the depository building. The documents note the screening process required each guest – including Mnuchin – to bring photo identification, such as a driver’s license.

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