Is Trump Compromised by Saudi Money?

The incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee wants to know saying the president hasn’t been honest

"On Thanksgiving Day, President Donald Trump once again touted the Saudi royal family’s denial of any role in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That didn’t sit well with Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat poised to take over the House Intelligence Committee.

“The president is not being honest with the country about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Schiff said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, having promised to use his new authority to investigate whether Trump’s personal finances influence his foreign policy. “Is his personal financial interest driving U.S. policy in the Gulf? … Are there financial entanglements with the Gulf? Are there financial inducements that the president has not to want to cross the Saudis?”

Although Trump tweeted last month that he has “no financial interests in Saudi Arabia,” he has in the past acknowledged business ties with the kingdom. “Saudi Arabia, I like the Saudis,” he said at a July 2015 campaign rally. “I make a lot of money with them. They buy all sorts of my stuff. All kinds of toys from Trump. They pay me millions and hundreds of millions.” The Associated Press reported that in the 1990s, when Trump was “teetering on personal bankruptcy and scrambling to raise cash,” a billionaire Saudi prince twice closed on multimillion-dollar deals, including one to buy a 282-foot yacht called Princess. More recent business comes through Saudi stays at Trump hotels during his presidency, though PolitiFact reports that the Trump Organization doesn’t appear to own property or invest in the kingdom.

These concerns about Trump’s financial entanglements with Saudi Arabia parallel suspicions about possible financial connections to Russia, which Schiff also promised to investigate, including “whether the Russians have been laundering money through the president’s businesses, and this is the financial hold that the Russians may have. It would certainly explain the otherwise bewildering conduct of the president in Helsinki, many of the president’s pro-Putin comments. It would explain why his sons have said at various times they don’t need money from U.S. banks—they get all the money they need from Russia.”

Read: Trump’s been talking about his business interests in Russia for 30 years.

Schiff, whom Trump called “little Adam Schitt” in a tweet last week, apparently is laying the groundwork to dig into the president’s personal finances more than any other investigator. When the Democrats take control of the House in January, he’ll gain control of the Intelligence Committee’s subpoena power and majority staff. The Daily Beastreported a few days ago that the committee has created positions for “money-laundering and forensic accounting experts.”

Some GOP senators joined Schiff and the Democrats in rejecting Trump’s meek acceptance of Saudi denials as they pressed for tougher punishment.

“I disagree with the president’s assessment. It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen,” said Senator Mike Lee, the libertarian-leaning Utahan who was the only non-judge on the president’s short list for the Supreme Court. On NBC’s Meet the Press, the host, Chuck Todd, asked whether Lee supported congressional investigations into Trump’s motive for accepting Saudi denials. ..."

Read full article at The Atlantic

Comments