The Washington Post is reporting that the funnelling of funds from Saudi Arabia to President Donald Trump’s personal business is even more extensive than previously recognized. The newspaper documents that at the end of 2016, after Trump’s victory was announced, and into the early 2017, the Washington-based lobbyists Qorvis/MSLGroup, which has a longstanding relationship with the Saudi government, booked 500 rooms in the Trump hotel in the nation’s capital, ostensibly in support of veterans groups who were lobbying against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.
The veterans who were brought to Washington were told that the new law was bad for those who served abroad. Some of these veterans claim they were not told that their lavish trips to Washington were being paid by Saudi Arabia.
Military veteran Dan Cord noted that the free-spending at the events was remarkable. “We’ve done hundreds of veterans events, and we’ve stayed in Holiday Inns and eaten Ritz Crackers and lemonade. And we’re staying in this hotel that costs $500 a night,” Cord told The Washington Post. “I’d never seen anything like this. They were like, ‘That’s what’s so cool! Drink on us.’”
As a lobbying effort, the project seemed poorly planned. The veterans were given minimum talking points and repeatedly shuttled to lawmakers who had already made clear they were adamantly on the other side of the issue. This lackluster planning suggests the purpose of the lobbying might be for reasons other than simply changing the law.
Speaking on MSNBC, Jake Sullivan, former national security advisor to former Vice President Joe Biden, said, “What it basically says is that Donald Trump has put his family business ahead of the nation’s business and for the American people that basically means national security is being put up to the highest bidders.”