Democrats demand answers on Trump's connections to Saudi Arabia

Democratic senators wrote a letter asking to learn about the Trump family's financial connections to Saudi Arabia

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 18, 2018 1:24PM (EDT)

Donald Trump; King Salman   (AP/Evan Vucci)
Donald Trump; King Salman (AP/Evan Vucci)

Eleven Democratic senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday asking for more information about his business relationship with the Saudi royal family.

"We write today to request information regarding any financial ties between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and your family business interests," explained the letter, which was signed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Cory Booker of New Jersey and other major names within the Democratic Party. After reviewing Saudi Arabia's history with the United States, the letter explains that "the Trump Organization for decades has maintained business relationships with the government of Saudi Arabia and members of the Saudi royal family. For instance, in 1995, a Saudi prince led a group of investors that acquired the Plaza Hotel in a deal to pay off Trump Organization debts on the property for $325 million. Similarly, public reports indicate that members of the Saudi royal family have acquired real estate at Trump properties for decades. Known real estate sales include the sale of the 45?? floor of the Trump World Tower for $12 million, and the purchase of a triplex Trump Place apartment by a Saudi Prince who eventually sold it this year for $36 million. Reports also revealed that a Trump-owned 23 foot yacht was sold to a Saudi prince in 1991 for $20 million."

The letter goes on to quote Trump stating on video in 2015 that "Saudi Arabia. I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million. $50 million." It also mentioned that "the Saudi government has spent substantial sums at three Trump branded hotels in the last two years, since you were elected President. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago have all reported a substantial increase in spending from Saudi visitors since you were elected President which raises separate questions about your compliance with the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the Constitution."

The letter concludes by mentioning the recent assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey as well as Trump's refusal to withdraw his financial interest in the Trump Organization, despite the controversy surrounding the Saudi royal family. As a result, the Democratic senators ask for more information about the relationship between the Trump Organization and the Saudi business empire, whether Trump has received gifts or anything else of value from the Saudi government and/or Saudi nationals and whether Trump will alter his business relationships with the Saudi royal family if they are found to have been involved in Khashoggi's death.

Earlier on Thursday, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin wrote on Twitter, "Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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