Kamikaze’s lead track, “The Ringer,” immediately attracted attention on social media due to lyrics in which Eminem, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, claimed he was visited by the Secret Service: "‘Cause Agent Orange just sent the Secret Service / To meet in person to see if I really think of hurtin’ him / Or ask if I’m linked to terrorists / I said, ‘Only when it comes to ink and lyricists.'"
At the time, the Secret Service refused to say whether agents had indeed visited Eminem, citing their policy of not commenting on or confirming “the absence or existence of specific investigations.”
So last year BuzzFeed News filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Secret Service to find out if agents really were sent to speak with Eminem.
This week, the agency turned over 40 pages of documents that prove they did in fact interview the rapper. It turns out their interest in speaking with him was based on “threatening lyrics” from his rap “Framed” that appeared on Revival. The Secret Service characterized Eminem as “exhibiting inappropriate behavior” and noted that he, via the rap, “threatens protectee.”
According to the documents, on Dec. 15, 2017, the day Revival was released, “a concerned citizen reported Marshall Mathers the rapper ‘Eminem’ had a new song called ‘Framed’ with an inappropriate comment towards President Donald Trump and a threatening comment towards Ivanka Trump.”
The “concerned citizen” was a TMZ employee, according to the documents. They sent the Secret Service an email with a link to an article in the Hill about the song. “I want to know if your agency is investigating Eminem for his threatening lyrics about First daughter Ivanka Trump,” the person wrote.
It appears the TMZ employee was seeking comment from the Secret Service. The documents do not reveal the agency received correspondence from any other individual about the song. Hours before the email was sent, TMZ had published a story about Eminem’s lyrics criticizing Trump. TMZ did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
The Secret Service investigative documents, which are heavily redacted, go on to say, “the song was about a murder that he could remember and must be ‘framed’ with the specific lyrics, ‘Donald Duck’s on as the Tonka Truck in the yard. But dog, how the fuck is Ivanka Trump in the trunk of my car? ... ' cause I feel somewhat responsible for the dumb little blonde Girl, that motherfuckin ' baton twirler that got dumped in the pond, Second murder with no recollection of it...”
The documents also note, “This is not the first time MATHERS made threatening comments towards POTUS and his family. In June 2017, MATHERS freestyled comments that were threatening in nature towards POTUS.”
Included as background evidence to support Eminem's hatred of Trump was a Dec. 18, 2017, interview Vulture conducted with the rapper in which he said Trump "makes my blood boil."
The Secret Service documents show the agency’s Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division conducted a background check on Eminem and started to arrange an interview with the rapper through his attorneys on Dec. 20, 2017.
The interview took place a month later, on the afternoon of Jan. 16, 2018, with Eminem and his legal team. Two pages of documents summarizing the discussion were entirely redacted but shows that it centered around Eminem’s BET freestyle rap and the lyrics in “Framed” and "Like Home," another track off of Revival that features Alicia Keys.
During the interview with Secret Service, when agents began to read the lyrics of his freestyle rap, “Mathers was familiar the song and began rap along with the interviewers as the verse was read," according to the documents.
The agents questioned Eminem about "fan mail that may include threats, or unusual interest items due to his songs."
“At the conclusion of the interview, Agents again offered to answer any questions. It was also explained that any additional questions about this investigation should be directed to the USSS [United States Secret Service] Office of Government and Public Affairs. Counsel then escorted Agents from Mather's office,” the documents say.
The interview was discussed two days later at a Secret Service meeting, the documents say, “and it was determined that this case will be NON-REFERRED” to a federal prosecutor.
Elsewhere in the documents, which refer to the rapper throughout by his real name, Marshall Mathers, there is a section that lists his aliases: Eminem and Slim Shady.
Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He is a 2018 Pulitzer finalist for international reporting, recipient of the IRE 2016 FOI award and a 2016 Newseum Institute National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame inductee.
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