Trump’s payments to Saudi Arabia could become his latest legal headache

Former President Donald Trump could face new legal troubles if the Justice Department decides to investigate his business ties with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The group Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) recently called on the DOJ and Congress to launch an investigation into Trump after new details about the funding of LIV Golf emerged, showing that an asset fund managed by the crown prince owned 93 percent of the LIV -Tournament owns and pays all costs associated with its events.

Trump has hosted a number of LIV golf events at his resorts, and DAWN argues that MBS has paid Trump millions through deals over the past several years. DAWN calls for an investigation into the former president to determine if the deals were legal. An investigation has not yet been launched at this time.

For deals between Trump and MBS to be illegal, they would have to have taken place during Trump’s candidacy or presidency. If the deals were made when Trump wasn’t running for office or serving as president, the deals are just “unethical,” said former federal attorney and president of the West Coast Trials Neama Rahmani news week.

Donald Trump and Mohammed bin Salman
Group Democracy for the Arab World Now is calling for former President Donald Trump (L) to be investigated over payments he received for hosting the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour at its resorts. A wealth fund headed by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman owns 93 percent of LIV.

Rahmani said the election law is clear in that a political candidate or someone in office cannot receive anything of value from a foreign government in connection with the election.

“If this happened after he was president and before he was [a 2024] Candidate, it’s wrong and unethical, but not illegal,” Rahmani said.

What happens when an investigation is launched?

Should an investigation occur, Rahmani said, one of three things could happen. The first, and least serious, is for investigators to learn that Trump did not conduct business during his tenure or candidacy. The second possibility is that if there is a violation, the Federal Elections Commission could administer it and Trump could be asked to pay a fine. The most serious possibility would be if the DOJ decides to prosecute Trump over the dealings.

If the probe were opened, the probe would be separated from other probes into Trump regarding the alleged misuse of classified documents or the January 6, 2021 US Capitol riot. Rahmani said the other investigations are “far more serious” grounds for prosecution than Trump’s involvement with LIVGolf.

But even if the deals were legal, Trump could have political consequences.

That’s what former federal prosecutor and attorney-elect Michael McAuliffe said news week that voters might consider Trump’s involvement with Saudi Arabia before deciding whether to elect him in 2024.

news week has reached out to Trump’s campaign for comment. Trump’s payments to Saudi Arabia could become his latest legal headache

Rick Schindler

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