(January 15, 2023 – New York): The Department of Justice and the US Congress should investigate disturbing facts and circumstances surrounding payments by Saudi Arabia’s Sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF), through wholly-owned LIV Golf, to companies owned former President Donald Trump told Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).
On January 13, 2023 Elliot Peters, a name of partner in Kekera prominent San Francisco law firm, which is the PGA’s lead counsel in the player’s lawsuitunintentionally discovered in court proceedings that PIF owns 93% of LIV Golf, pays for all its events and holds all the financial risk of the entity. The chairman of the PIF is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who has absolute and ultimate control over the fund. LIV Golf is a newly established golf tournament franchise that emerged as a rival to PGA Golf. Trump-owned golf resorts have been paid undisclosed millions of dollars to hold their events there, and former President Trump has publicly championed the new league, making prominent appearances at its events and encouraging PGA players to sign up for LIV Golf.
“The revelation that a fund controlled by MBS’s heir to the throne actually owns almost all of LIV Golf means that MBS has paid Donald Trump undisclosed millions over the past two years, through mutual corporate fronts,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of DAWN. . “The implications of paying a grotesquely violent foreign dictator to a president of the United States who has rendered him extraordinary national security services are as dangerous as they are shocking.”
Information about LIV Golf was otherwise sealed in a secret shareholder agreement between PIF and LIV Golf, although LIV Golf had previously disclosed that PIF was its majority shareholder. There was no independent verification of the ownership percentages allegedly revealed in court. It is not known who owns the other seven percent of LIV Golf. LIV Golf Players and LIV Golf sued the PGA for suspending PGA players who had signed contracts with LIV Golf, and the PGA sued LIV Golf and PIF for interfering with its players’ contracts. MBS is the president of PIF and has absolute power to decide on his investments.
There is no doubt that MBS controls the PIF with the same absolute power as he controls the rest of the country, with the final decision on all PIF investments. When PIF’s advisory board objected to PIF’s $2 billion investment in Trump’s son-in-law’s fledgling fund, Affinity Partners, MBS reportedly vetoed remarks to continue with the controversial investment as the sole investor in a start-up fund that had no track record. Following the DAWNs demand for Congress to investigate this investment as well as the $1 billion PIF investment in the newly established fund of Trump’s former Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, Senator Warren announced she would open an investigation into conflict-of-interest violations and violations of ethics laws that prohibit solicitation of foreign government officials while in office.
“Former President Trump has made no secret of the endless favors he has given to MBS and Saudi Arabia during his tenure, from his first state visit to the country, to vetoing legislation that would have banned arms sales to the country, to protecting MBS by hiding a CIA report concluding that MBS ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi,” Whitson said. “Now it appears that like his son-in-law and Treasury Secretary, Trump is cashing in his money with MBS for all these favors.”
The Department of Justice and the US Congress should investigate any and all communications by Trump, his agents and Trump Organization personnel regarding their dealings with LIV Golf, including any and all communications they had with MBS, PIF, LIV Golf or any which of their agents as personnel, and when these communications took place. The investigation should include a thorough examination of the terms of all payments and what promises and services were and will be delivered in exchange for those payments, to determine whether U.S. federal laws and ethics rules that limit conflicts of interest, disclosure of lobbying and corruption hurt.
“If Trump or his agents discussed any dealings with LIV Golf or PIF while Trump was still in office, a criminal investigation would also be in order because federal law strictly prohibits this type of business by federal officials with foreign governments,” he said. is Whitson. .
The US Congress should also initiate efforts to enact legislation that would clearly and unequivocally prohibit all former senior government officials from working for, advising, doing business with, or soliciting foreign government officials or entities they control for at least five years after the end of their term. Such a conflict of interest and national security law would prohibit former government officials with access to sensitive national security information from giving and selling their services, knowledge and access to foreign governments.
“The absence of strong conflict-of-interest laws has created a dangerous and growing threat to America’s national security, as former U.S. officials — even the former president — increasingly race to cash in on their work for our government in lucrative contracts with foreign governments,” Whitson said. . . “With Trump also planning to run for president again, his business ties to Mohammed bin Salman are a national security emergency.”
AND The Washington Post editorial raised serious questions about the emergence of PIF investments in the Kushner and Mnuchin funds as a reward for political support of the Trump administration and protection of MBS despite the crimes he committed in connection with the war in Yemen and the murder of Khashoggi, and political betting on “the Trump family’s political future — specifically, the possible return of Kushner’s father-in-law to the White House if he runs again and wins the 2024 presidential election.” That we now know that MBS’s PIF fund also directly pays Trump companies only adds to this concern.
President Trump and Jarred Kushner established a close working relationship with MBS that included MBS visiting and dinner at the Trump White House in March 2017, followed by Trump’s visit to Riyadh. The Trump administration is reported shared classified national security information about the identities of Saudi nationals who held meetings with the State Department and the Trump administration with MBS, prior to the killing of US resident Jamal Khashoggi and attempted murder Saad Aljabri, a former Saudi official who fled the country after MBS ousted former Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef (MBN). The Trump administration is too reported shared classified US intelligence with MBS about MBN’s plan to depose MBS as crown prince, immediately after which MBS detained MBN without compensation in March 2020. MBN remains in custody and has had no public communications since.
Following the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi by MBS and his agents on October 3, 2018, the Trump administration reportedly advised MBS on how to deal with the political and public relations fallout from the assassination and Kushner continued to violate White House rules requiring National Security Council staff to attend all meetings with foreign government officials in ongoing private conversations with MBS. Speaking to veteran journalist Bob Woodward, President Trump he boasted that he “saved his ass” referring to MBS after the murder of Khashoggi. President Trump granted $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, and remained a strong supporter of MBS and continued arms sales to the Kingdom, vetoing two bipartisan Congressional votes end arms sales to the Kingdom’s war in Yemen.
US laws restricting the solicitation or employment of foreign government officials and entities after a federal government official leaves office are woefully inadequate, and there appear to be no laws restricting former officials outside of intelligence agencies from working or doing business for foreign governments. On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2022 into law with provisions forbidding U.S. intelligence agents with knowledge of national security interests and espionage from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and more than a dozen other U.S. intelligence agencies from selling their services to foreign governments for at least 30 months after the end of their federal employment, as well as requiring them to notify the intelligence community and the US Congress of any foreign government work for five years after they leave the service.
Members of Congress proposed the bill in light of the intelligence crisis and the leaking of “spy” data linked to US intelligence agents working for foreign governments, particularly National Security Agency officials who the radio for the UAE government and shares surveillance technology and techniques with them, including hacking hundreds of phones and spying on journalists, dissidents and American citizens in a venture called “Project Gavran“. Ministry of Justice also successful processed former intelligence officials for their role in this spying.
However, there are strict laws under 5 CFR 2635 Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of a Federal Branch Regarding Communications and Negotiations of U.S. Government Officials for Future Employment or Business that require the disclosure and exemption of an employee while working for the U.S. Government. . Unfortunately, the only prohibitions on future employment refer to narrow and limited prohibitions on appearing and communicating before the US government, on behalf of the new employer.
“The Justice Department and Congress have a responsibility to investigate exactly when and to whom and under what conditions Trump received unknown millions from the coffers of the Saudi government controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which may violate even our existing weak ethics laws,” he said. Whitson. “However, the real task of Congress is to end the terrible incentives created by the lack of strong conflict-of-interest laws, allowing wealthy tyrants to buy even America’s presidents.”