Court proceedings reveal MBS paid Trump “millions in the past two years”: Human rights group

DAWN calls for DOJ probe after revelation that MBS owns nearly all of Trump-partnered LIV Golf

By Rae Hodge

Staff Reporter

Published January 17, 2023 11:26AM (EST)

Donald Trump, President of the United States of America (USA), and Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdelasis al-Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, stand side by side in the group picture at the start of the G20 summit, June 2019. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Donald Trump, President of the United States of America (USA), and Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdelasis al-Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, stand side by side in the group picture at the start of the G20 summit, June 2019. (Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images)

A human rights organization founded by slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi is calling on Congress and the Justice Department to investigate former President Donald Trump's business deals with a controversial golf company owned by the Saudi Arabian government and controlled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. 

Nonprofit Democracy for the Arab World Now said LIV Golf, a tournament franchise and PGA Golf rival, paid Trump-owned golf resorts "unknown millions of dollars" to host events. Recent court proceedings revealed that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund -- chaired by bin Salman -- owns 93% of LIV Golf, and pays "100 percent of the costs associated with the events."

"The revelation that a fund controlled by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman actually owns almost all of LIV Golf means that MBS has been paying Donald Trump unknown millions for the past two years, via their mutual corporate covers," said DAWN Executive Director Sarah Leah Whitson in a Sunday statement

"If Trump or his agents discussed any deals with LIV Golf or PIF while Trump was still in office, a criminal investigation would also be in order because federal law strictly prohibits this sort of business dealing by sitting federal officials with foreign governments."


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DAWN pointed to previous PIF investments in Trump-adjacent business dealings which have drawn scrutiny over potential ethics law violations -- including PIF's $2 billion investment in Affinity Partners, the hedge fund owned by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and a $1 billion PIF investment in a private equity fund owned by former Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"The Justice Department and Congress have a responsibility to investigate exactly when and to whom and under what terms Trump has obtained unknown millions from Saudi government coffers controlled by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, which may well violate even our existing, weak ethics laws," said Whitson. 

"Given that Trump is also planning to run again for president, his business ties to Mohamed bin Salman are a national security emergency."


By Rae Hodge

Rae Hodge is a news and politics reporter for Salon. Her data-driven, investigative coverage spans more than a decade, including prior roles with CNET, the AP, NPR, the BBC and others. She can be found on Mastodon at @raehodge@newsie.social. 

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Aggregate Donald Trump Liv Golf Mohamed Bin Salman Politics