Trump Pentagon Pick Questioned About Firm’s Link To Killing Of Saudi Journalist
Senate lawmakers have questioned Louis Bremer, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Pentagon’s special operations, during a confirmation hearing regarding his firm’s connection to the Saudi hit squad implicated in the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, according to Al-Moniter.
- The former Navy SEAL’s firm, the Arkansas-based Tier 1 Group, provides special operations tactical training to law enforcement as well as foreign government personnel.
- In his confirmation hearing, Bremer told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he didn’t know if Tier 1 had trained any members of the hit squad believed to have killed Khashoggi. However, he did say:
“I do know what we have trained Saudi nationals as part of our engagements with the kingdom as an allied nation.”
- A Washington Post report by David Ignatius in March 2019 pointed out that the CIA had warned other government agencies that Khashoggi’s assassins potentially received training from Tier 1 with State Department permission.
- When asked about the report during the hearing, Bremer claimed he was unaware of the article.
- Sen. Angus King (I-ME) pressed him on the issue, saying:
“It’s hard for me to believe that a mention of your company by name in a column by David Ignatius … would not come to your attention or the attention of the board.”
- Bremer then backtracked, telling the committee:
“I just don’t recall the specifics about it. I’m not trying to hide any investigation that we may have done or not done. It’s very likely that we did do some form of investigation, [we] likely even had a discussion at the board level.”
- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said he doesn’t want to proceed with the nomination until the situation is cleared up, telling Breaking Defense:
“I don’t feel comfortable moving forward on this nomination until I get answers.”
- Al-Monitor also reported,
Bremer currently heads Cerberus Capital Management, which owns Tier 1 and was founded by Stephen Feinberg, who reportedly once had the president’s ear over a proposal to send private contractors to Afghanistan instead of US troops.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Cerberus also purchased part of Jared Kushner's debt in 2008 after Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, purchased a nearly $2 billion office building in Manhattan.