China, Saudis spent hundreds of thousands at Trump hotel

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China, Saudis spent hundreds of thousands at Trump hotel

WASHINGTON – Six foreign governments — including China and Saudi Arabia — spent more the $750,000 at former President Donald Trump’s Washington hotel in 2017 and 2018 while “seeking to influence American foreign policy,” according documents released Monday by a House committee.

The House Oversight and Reform panel, which has been investigating whether the 76-year-old Trump used his office for personal enrichment, found representatives of Malaysia, Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates also splurged on “lavish” rooms costing up to $10,000 a night following a review of documents from the 45th president’s former accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP.

The first questionable spending happened in August 2017, when a delegation from the Chinese embassy spent nearly $20,000 at the luxury hotel two months before Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In a statement Monday, the committee’s chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) suggested the spending may have been on Trump’s mind in November 2017, when “he lavished praise on President Xi Jinping, and in contrast to his campaign, blamed the US for its trade deficit with China.”

Trump International Hotel.
In 2017, a delegation from the Chinese embassy spent nearly $20,000 at the hotel two months before the President Donald Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
AP

“Other documents obtained by the committee indicate that the Trump Hotel may have sought business from both China and Russia around this time, despite the Trump Organization’s promise not to enter into any foreign deals while Mr. Trump was president,” Maloney said.

Also in late 2017, government officials from Saudi Arabia and the UAE began spending tens of thousands of dollars at the Trump hotel, adding up to at least $164,929 by mid-2018. Guests “seemingly” included members of the Saudi royal family, according to the report.

Again, the committee suspected the finances may have influenced Trump’s decision-making, noting that the former president fired then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on March 13, 2018 while Saudi and Emirati officials were staying at the hotel.

US President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Government officials from Saudi Arabia and the UAE spent at least $164,929 at the Trump Hotel by mid-2018.

Donald Trump looks at a defense sales chart with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office.
Then-President Donald Trump looks at a defense sales chart with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The Malaysian government spent at least $259,724 at the hotel over an eight-day period leading up to then-Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak’s official visit to the White House in 2017.

“Saudi and Emirati officials had reportedly been lobbying President Trump to remove [Tillerson] for his role in intervening to stop a Saudi invasion of Qatar the previous summer,” Maloney said.

For its part, Qatar spent about $282,037 on an extended stay by its ruling Sheikh Al Thani family in the lead-up to an April 2018 official visit to the White House. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner also booked rooms on “several occasions” when the Sheikh Al Thani family stayed the night, according to the records.

“In early April 2018, President Trump welcomed the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to the White House where he praised Qatar’s record on combatting terrorism and referred to Al Thani as a ‘great gentleman,’” Maloney said.

Trump family.
Ivanka and Jared Kushner reportedly booked rooms on “several occasions” when the Sheikh Al Thani family stayed at the Trump hotel.
AP

In September 2017, the Malaysian government spent at least $259,724 at the hotel over an eight-day period leading up to then-Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak’s official visit to the White House on Sept. 12.

At the time, the Justice Department was investigating the Razak family “for looting a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund and laundering the money through US financial institutions,” Maloney said. 

“Despite the ongoing DOJ investigation and other actions by Prime Minister Razak that had drawn criticism from human rights groups, President Trump lavished praise on Prime Minister Razak during his visit and thanked him for ‘all the investment you have made in the United States,’” Maloney said.

Razak was later prosecuted by the Malaysian government for his role in the money laundering scandal, known as 1MDB.

This is a developing story

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