America Last: Oil Oligarchs have a Plan for You

July 29, 2019

It’s not about America. They have a plan for you and your future as a serf in a resource colony.

New York Times:

As Donald J. Trump was preparing to deliver an address on energy policy in May 2016, Paul Manafort, his campaign chairman, had a question about the speech’s contents for Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a top campaign fund-raiser and close friend of Mr. Trump.

“Are you running this by our friends?” Mr. Manafort asked in a previously undisclosed email to Mr. Barrack, whose real estate and investment firm does extensive business in the Middle East.

Mr. Barrack was, in fact, coordinating the language in a draft of the speech with Persian Gulf contacts including Rashid al-Malik, an Emirati businessman who is close to the rulers of the United Arab Emirates.

The exchanges about Mr. Trump’s energy speech are among a series of interactions that have come under scrutiny by federal prosecutors looking at foreign influence over his campaign, his transition and the early stages of his administration, according to documents and interviews with people familiar with the case.

ABC News:

When candidate Donald Trump prepared to give a major energy speech during the 2016 campaign, one of his closest advisers provided a pre-speech review to senior United Arab Emirates officials, an unorthodox move that caught the attention of federal investigators, according to emails and text messages uncovered by a House Oversight Committee investigation.

“The Trump Administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policy making from corporate and foreign interests,” according to a report overseen by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, who commissioned the investigation into back channel business dealings between certain Trump aides and Middle Eastern countries.

Two weeks before Trump was scheduled to deliver the energy policy speech, Thomas Barrack, a California investment tycoon with extensive contacts in the Middle East and who later helped oversee Trump’s inauguration, provided a former business associate inside the United Arab Emirates with an advance copy of the candidate’s planned remarks. The associate then told Barrack he shared them with UAE and Saudi government officials, after which Barrack arranged for language requested by the UAE officials to be added to the speech with the help of Trump’s campaign manager at the time, Paul Manafort.

“This is the most likely final version of the speech. It has the language you want,” Manafort confirmed in an email to Barrack on the day of the speech, according to the report. Manafort has since gone to prison for financial crimes unrelated to his campaign work.

Times again:

Mr. Barrack recommended that Mr. Trump hire Mr. Manafort, who rose to campaign chairman before he was fired over a separate foreign lobbying scandal. Mr. Manafort, who was awash in debt and had no income, had hoped that after the campaign Mr. Barrack would use his deep ties to the oil-rich nations to drum up business for them both, according to people familiar with the situation.

In one email to the U.A.E.’s ambassador in Washington, Mr. Barrack promoted Mr. Manafort as someone who was “totally programmed” on the alliance between the Saudis and Emiratis.

Mr. Manafort, in turn, was willing to describe Mr. Barrack to foreign officials as someone who could speak for the campaign on all subjects.

The Times learned of some of Mr. Barrack’s electronic correspondence from people critical of Emirati foreign policy and from people familiar with his work with the Trump campaign.

In early May 2016, Mr. Barrack asked Mr. al-Malik and other Persian Gulf contacts to propose language for a draft of an energy speech that Mr. Trump was to deliver in Bismarck, N.D., that month.

Mr. Barrack’s draft of the speech cited a new generation of leaders in the Gulf region, naming both the Emirati crown prince and his ally, Mohammed bin Salman, then deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi prince, often referred to by his initials, M.B.S., has now consolidated his control of the kingdom.

Mr. Barrack’s aides said he tried to influence Mr. Trump’s address because he cares deeply about United States relations with the Persian Gulf region and was worried that Mr. Trump’s inflammatory campaign messaging would damage them. Among other provocative statements, Mr. Trump had vowed that, if elected, he would bar Muslims from entering the United States.

When Mr. Trump and a campaign speechwriter rejected Mr. Barrack’s draft, Mr. Manafort wrote to Mr. Barrack, “Send me an insert that works for our friends and I will fight for it.”

In the end, to Mr. Barrack’s disappointment, Mr. Trump made only a passing reference to the need to work with “gulf allies” on “a positive energy relationship as part of our antiterrorism strategy.”

ABC News:

A longtime Trump insider has been pushing a proposal to build dozens of nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia while seeking to avoid restrictions on the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology and has at times stood to profit from the effort, according to an investigative report by the House Oversight Committee.

“Today’s report reveals new and extensive evidence that corroborates Committee whistle-blowers and exposes how corporate and foreign interests are using their unique access to advocate for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat who chairs the committee.

The 50-page report, which relied on 60,000 documents and statements from whistle-blowers inside the administration, was made public Monday. It focuses on the actions of Thomas Barrack, a wealthy Los Angeles businessman who oversaw President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, as well as earlier efforts by retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn to push a Saudi nuclear energy plan. Investigators said they found evidence that “private parties with close ties to the President wield[ed] outsized influence over U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia.”

One Response to “America Last: Oil Oligarchs have a Plan for You”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Manafort has since gone to prison for financial crimes unrelated to his campaign work.

    Manafort offered to work for the Trump campaign for free because he’d always made his money leveraging political influence. Effectively, his campaign work was a setup for future financial crimes. 😉

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