When the Democrats retake the majority in the House of Representatives in January, now one of the priorities in their planned investigations of President Trump is to look into Trump’s financial ties with Saudi Arabia. That investigation has likely gone up a few places in the priorities as more and more people are struck by President Trump’s denial of the CIA’s findings that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), currently the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and the most likely person to chair that committee once Democrats retake the House majority, said today, according to Bloomberg News, that it would be “irresponsible” for the panel not to look into Trump’s financial ties with Saudi Arabia, and also said that, based on the CIA briefing he received about Khashoggi’s death, Trump is “being dishonest with the American people”.
President Trump has repeatedly stressed the financial aspect of the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia, apparently believing that Saudi purchases of U.S. weapons and Saudi oil are more important than non-financial issues at hand, such as human rights abuses by Saudi Arabia, attacks on journalists and journalism, and outright crimes, including Khashoggi’s murder, committed on the order of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to Bloomberg News:
Democrats will probe whether President Donald Trump has financial ties with Saudi Arabia that colored his response to the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, said the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “Is his personal financial interest driving U.S. policy in the Gulf?’’ Representative Adam Schiff of California, who’s expected to chair the panel in the new Congress, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “We don’t know, but it would be irresponsible not to find out.’’…Schiff, who said he’s been briefed by the CIA on the matter, accused the president of misleading the American public about Khashoggi’s killing. “While I can’t discuss the contents of the briefing in any way, I can say that I think the president is being dishonest with the American people,’’ Schiff said…Trump has also said he won’t let the murder jeopardize U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, citing the potential impact on oil prices and on weapon deals with the Kingdom. And he’s denied having any financial dealings with the Gulf nation.
Trump’s denials of financial dealings with Saudi Arabia contrast with statements he has made in the past, however. In 2015, back when Trump was just a candidate for president, he boasted of financial connections with Saudi Arabia, saying at an Alabama campaign rally, according to Bloomberg News, “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million.” Saudi officials have also frequented Trump hotels in New York City and Washington, D.C., since Trump became president, and, according to Business Insider, a lobbying company tied to the Saudi government spent $270,000 at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., just in the interval between October 2016 and March 2017.
Representative Schiff is not the only likely House committee chair to call for a probe of Trump‘s financial ties to Saudi Arabia today. Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who is likely to chair the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on “Meet the Press” today, according to Bloomberg News, that examining Trump’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia is “definitely something that we need to look into.” Indeed, many people believe that oversight of Trump and the Trump administration was sorely lacking while Republicans held majorities in both houses of Congress, but that looks as if it will change quite quickly once Democrats retake the House majority in January.