Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam have become Donald Trump’s biggest and most important donors over the past two years, using their influence to help shape the administration’s Middle East and tax policies, among others. Adelson was believed to have been particularly instrumental in Trump’s decision to move the United States’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite widespread international criticism. The Adelsons have given tens of millions to support the administration and are particularly important to the GOP’s midterm election efforts.
On Wednesday, ProPublica reported that Adelson dined with the president in February of 2017, shortly after the casino magnate donated $20 million to Trump’s presidential campaign and $5 million to his inauguration. The following day, Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. During their conversation, the president reportedly lobbied Abe on behalf of Adelson, who has long harbored an ambition to build a casino in Japan.
“It was totally brought up out of the blue,” one of the people briefed on the exchange told ProPublica. “They were a little incredulous that he would be so brazen.... Abe didn’t really respond, and said thank you for the information.” According to the report, Trump also lobbied Abe on behalf of donor Steve Wynn, who ran MGM Casino and Resorts and served as the RNC finance chairman at the time.
From the moment Trump was elected president, there have been concerns that he has used the office of the presidency to enrich himself, his family, and his allies. In the case of Adelson, Trump may have used his office to give his largest donor personal and financial benefits.