Trump friend tried to profit off U.S. energy policy in Mideast, report finds

A friend of President Trump’s enjoyed broad access to top administration officials in an attempt to influence and profit from U.S. energy policy towards Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, according to a new report from Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. 

The committee’s second interim report on the topic comes after Mr. Trump spent his weekend attacking the committee’s black chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, on Twitter.

The report, is based on 60,000 pages of new documents, claims longtime Trump friend and inaugural committee chairman Tom Barrack Jr. lobbied top White House officials, including the president, to nominate him for Middle Eastern ambassadorships while promoting U.S. corporations looking to profit from transferring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. Barrack ultimately was not nominated for an ambassadorship. In one of the more shocking examples of its findings, the report claims Barrack shared drafts of a major 2016 Trump campaign speech on energy with Saudi and Emirati officials “to coordinate pro-Gulf language.”

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The report also suggests officials at private energy company IP3 have had extensive access to top administration officials, including President Trump and Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, in efforts to ease the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. According to documents obtained by the committee, IP3 has been pushing the administration not to require Saudi Arabia to agree to a “Gold Standard” commitment not to use U.S. nuclear technology to create nuclear weapons. 

Despite the new documents obtained from private entities, Cummings said the Trump administration hasn’t turned over most of the documents the committee needs. Republicans on the committee insist the Trump administration has been responsive to requests for documents. 

“Today’s report reveals new and extensive evidence that corroborates committee whistleblowers 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,” Cummings said in a statement. “The American people deserve to know the facts about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s personal friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.”

It’s unclear what if anything IP3 or Barrack ever tangibly gained from the administration. Barrack, a Los Angeles-based investor, has not been charged with any wrongdoing. 

Mr. Trump has often spoken of the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia in economic terms, using the economic ties between the two nations as a reason not to cause a stir in the wake of the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi

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