For decades, Republicans have been salivating at the idea that somehow, a businessman would be the person to turn around our government. Well, Republicans got what they wished, only instead of turning around our government, Donald Trump is simply continuing being a for-profit businessman, while acting as the President of the United States.
For the first time since taking office, Trump is about to visit some of our overseas allies. While many of the meetings are expected to be contentious, or at the very least awkward, one meeting is expected to go very well. That meeting will be with Saudi Arabia, a country with whom Trump has major business interests and for the Saudis, well, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, just got them a great deal on weapons.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that Kushner had a meeting with a Saudi delegation on May 1st. The goal was to seal a $100 billion plus arms deal before Trump’s visit.
The two sides discussed a shopping list that included planes, ships and precision-guided bombs. Then an American official raised the idea of the Saudis’ buying a sophisticated radar system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.
Sensing that the cost might be a problem, several administration officials said, Mr. Kushner picked up the phone and called Marillyn A. Hewson — the chief executive of Lockheed Martin, which makes the radar system — and asked her whether she could cut the price. As his guests watched slack-jawed, Ms. Hewson told him she would look into it, officials said.
Technically, Kushner didn’t break any laws. Saudi Arabia is an ally (and one of the worst human rights violators in the world — something Trump will not address during his visit) However, the Obama administration was reluctant to sell them some weapons at all because they feared the Saudis would use them to bomb civilians in Yemen.
During the presidential campaign, Trump didn’t even try to hide his conflicts of interest in Saudi Arabia. Almost immediately after announcing his run, Trump bought registered eight companies there. He even bragged about his business ties in Saudi Arabia and said that he would protect them as president.
“They buy apartments from me,” Trump said during the Alabama rally. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”
“I would want to protect Saudi Arabia,” he said during the interview. “But Saudi Arabia is going to have to help us economically. They were making, before the oil went down … they were making $1 billion a day.”
Source: The Hill
At the same time, he criticized Hillary Clinton for the fact that the Clinton Foundation, which she vowed to cut ties to if she had won, accepted money from Saudi Arabia.
Again, what Kushner did is not illegal, at least it doesn’t appear that way. But Trump’s cozy relationship and his inextricable business ties are concerning. Saudi Arabia has no freedom of speech. People are arrested for dissent. Atheism is illegal. Out of 136 countries in the world, Saudi Arabia is ranked 127th for women’s rights. They are war criminals. Amnesty International has asked that the U.S. stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia.
Trump is willing to overlook all of that though, and even use his connections to seal the Saudis a great deal on weapons. After all, they’re some of his newest business partners.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images.