Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Saudis 'sought influence' with 500 bookings at Trump's hotel

H11 trump international hotel WashPost: Saudi Lobbyists Paid For Over 500 Nights at Trump International Following 2016 Election
Jeannette Daniel | 08 December, 2018, 22:09

Hundreds of veterans were unwittingly used as pawns to lobby for US legislation the Saudi government supported, and put up in luxury hotel rooms in Washington DC - all paid for by the Saudi Arabian government.

Lobbyists representing Saudi Arabia's government paid over a quarter-million dollars to rent rooms at Donald Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel within a month of Trump's election in 2016.

The lobbyists were reserving large numbers of D.C. -area hotel rooms as part of an unorthodox campaign that offered United States military veterans a free trip to Washington, then sent them to Capitol Hill to lobby against a law the Saudis opposed, according to veterans and organizers.

The aim of the lobbying efforts appeared to be an amendment to the law, though no changes were ever passed through Congress and some veterans involved told the Post that it was unclear what specific changes the groups organizing the trips desired to see, the Hill newspaper reported.

The law the Saudis opposed - the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act - allows victims of 9/11 to sue Saudi Arabia.

More news: Two-year-old needs some of the rarest blood in the world to survive

The NMLB Veterans Advocacy Group, which is run by a veteran, was hired by a secondary lobbyist group, Qorvis, acting on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government.

Executives at the hotel told the Post they were not aware Saudis were footing the bill. This would lead to lawsuits against USA soldiers for their actions.

Some of the veterans who stayed at Trump's hotel say they were kept in the dark about the Saudis' role in the trips. He went on three trips, and said that what made the Trump hotel trips different from trips with other veterans groups were the private rooms, open bars and free dinners.

"We realized we were pawns", Casler said.

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