Foreign autocrats looking to influence Trump administration policy showered hundreds of thousands of dollars on former president Donald Trump by spending lavishly at the Washington DC hotel he maintained just blocks from the White House, according to financial records from the ex-president’s former accounting firm released by the House Oversight Committee on Monday.
The documents, which were obtained from ex-Trump accountants at Mazars, inc by way of a subpoena issued by the late oversight committee chairman Elijah Cummings, showed how several foreign governments dropped huge sums of money at the twice-impeached ex-president’s Pennsylvania Avenue hotel at times when they had serious business before the government Mr Trump led at the time.
One such visitor, then-Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak, stayed at Mr Trump’s hotel at the same time he and his family were targets of a Department of Justice probe stemming from what would become one of the largest cases of money laundering in history.
During an eight-day stay in September 2017, Mr Razak and his traveling party dropped more than a quarter of a million dollars — $259,724 — into Mr Trump’s coffers, including roughly $10,000 per night to stay in the hotel’s presidential suite.
When Mr Razak and Mr Trump spoke to reporters at the top of a bilateral meeting in the West Wing on 12 September, 2017, Mr Trump praised the Malaysian leader for being “a massive investor in the United States”.
Less than a year later, Mr Razak would be arrested by Malaysian authorities and charged with abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust.
Other customers at Mr Trump’s hotel included the Saudi and Emirati royal families and other government officials, at a time when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were soliciting US support for the 2017-2018 blockade of Qatar, a major US ally in the Middle East region.
According to Oversight Committee documents, Saudi and Emirati officials dropped at least $164,929 at the Trump Hotel at the same time both governments were pushing Mr Trump to sack his first Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson. The then-president fired Mr Tillerson on 13 March 2018, and Mr Trump welcomed the Saudi crown prince to the White House a week later, just before approving more than $1bn in arms sales to the kingdom.
In addition, officials from Turkey and the People’s Republic of China spent significantly at Mr Trump’s hotel while lobbying his government.
In a statement, Oversight Committee chair Carolyn Maloney said the documents “sharply call into question the extent to which President Trump was guided by his personal financial interest while in office rather than the best interests of the American people”.
“These documents, which the Committee continues to obtain from Mazars, will inform our legislative efforts to ensure that future presidents do not abuse their position of power for personal gain,” she added.
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