Corruption

Saudi Lobbyists Booked Hundreds of Rooms at Trump’s Hotel for Duped Veterans

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

There are so many layers to this bottomless pit of bad faith and corruption, I hardly know where to begin, but I suppose we can begin with the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

Shortly before President Obama left office, Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) which would allow the families of victims of 9/11 to sue the Saudi government for damages. The law was passed because current law at the time compelled the federal government to oppose the families in court.

The Saudi government lobbied heavily against the law and their efforts reportedly continued and even escalated after the 2016 election. And that seems natural, but this is the really sickening part: they duped veterans into a grift that lined the pockets of the Trumps.

The Washington Post reported last night that Saudi lobbyists booked hundreds (500) of hotel rooms at Trump's hotel in Washington D.C. and offered all expense paid trips for veterans if they would oppose JASTA. And many of them apparently didn't know what they were really getting into.

Now forgive the long quote, but look at this shit:

Some of the veterans who stayed at Trump’s hotel say they were kept in the dark about the Saudis’ role in the trips. Now, they wonder if they were used twice over: not just to deliver someone else’s message to Congress, but also to deliver business to the Trump Organization.

“It made all the sense in the world, when we found out that the Saudis had paid for it,” said Henry Garcia, a Navy veteran from San Antonio who went on three trips. He said the organizers never said anything about Saudi Arabia when they invited him.

He believed the trips were organized by other veterans, but that puzzled him, because this group spent money like no veterans group he had ever worked with. There were private hotel rooms, open bars, free dinners. Then, Garcia said, one of the organizers who had been drinking minibar champagne mentioned a Saudi prince. [...]

Veterans said they were told that the new law might cause other countries to retaliate and might lead to U.S. veterans being prosecuted overseas for what their units had done in war. They were given a few fact sheets — including one with small print at the bottom, reading “This is distributed by Qorvis MSLGROUP on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia.”

But they said they weren’t given detailed briefings about how the law ought to be amended, or policy briefings to leave behind for legislators to study. [...]

Another problem: In some cases, congressional staffers confronted them because they knew who was funding these trips.

Even if the veterans did not.

“We’d walk in there, and they’d go, ‘Are you the veterans that are getting bribed?’” [Army veteran Robert Suesakul] said.

You have the Saudis funneling money into Trump's property.

You have the Saudis using veterans to oppose a law that benefits the victims of 9/11 (the reason many of them became veterans in the first place) by lying to them about it.

You have the veterans being kept in the dark about what's really going on.

You have these lobbyists taking advantage of the patriotism of veterans who thought they were visiting Washington for a good cause.

These transactions, in which the Saudis booked 500 rooms at Trump's hotel in D.C. over three months, are being scrutinized in court as part of the emoluments case brought by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The discovery process in that case has barely even begun and I expect we're going to learn about many more cases similar to this one. I was going to say we'll see more cases 'exactly' like this one, but I don't know if that's possible. Matching this level of bad faith could be difficult.

The Saudis deny that booking rooms at Trump's hotel was meant to influence him and they deny that anyone in the Trump Organization knew about it, but I don't buy that for a second. If congressional staffers knew about it, it must have been common knowledge. And you don't book 500 rooms without someone noticing.

  • muselet

    If this isn’t the perfect story for the Donald Trump era, I don’t know what is.

    –alopecia

  • Christopher Foxx

    They were given a few fact sheets — including one with small print at the bottom, reading “This is distributed by Qorvis MSLGROUP on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia.”

    But they said they weren’t given detailed briefings about how the law ought to be amended, or policy briefings to leave behind for legislators to study. […]

    “We’d walk in there, and they’d go, ‘Are you the veterans that are getting bribed?’”

    Hey, guys. Those two things there, they’re called “clues”. Maybe you should find out who you’re lobbying for before being swayed by nice rooms and free grub.

  • katanahamon

    This goes on every day and at every level of the Rump administration. They’re all liars and grifters. Meanwhile they are setting a financial time bomb.

    • Draxiar

      And not trying to defuse the climate time bomb.

      • Christopher Foxx

        Defuse? On the contrary, they’re trying to cram more C4 and TNT in there.

        • Draxiar

          That is sadly true.