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The Multi-Billion-Dollar Business Of Influence Peddling

Qatar

The Saudi-led blockade of Qatar could have packed more of a punch had top Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy’s courting of crown princes from UAE and Saudi Arabia led to his hoped for $1-billion payoff.

The billion dollars would reportedly have come from the princes in return for Broidy’s effort to turn Trump against Qatar. But after playing up to the princes, according to the conclusion of a long-running investigation by the Associated Press, Broidy failed to change the course of U.S. foreign policy.  

He also failed to get the $1-billion in consulting contracts with Saudi Arabia and the UAE he was alleged to have been promised if successful.

Broidy and his business partner, the by-now famous Lebanese-American George Nader, served themselves up as the princely back-channel to the White House so they could whisper things in Trump’s ear, such as Qatar is a “snake”. Throughout, they made sure political donations were making their way to a White House they hoped would be compliant in the game of bringing down Qatar.

“But documents show the lobbying was intertwined with the pursuit of contracts from the very start, and involved specific political tasks carried out for the crown princes—whose countries are listed as the ‘clients’ for the lobbying campaign in a spreadsheet from Broidy’s company, Circinus LLC,” the AP reported.

By December 2017, Broidy was hoping to get his first tranche of payoff for $36 million for what has been described as an intelligence-gathering contract with the UAE. But it all went south when Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel investigating Russian interference in the elections. Suddenly the door was slammed shut on Broidy, and this was no longer a foreign free-for-all. People were paying attention.

The Cast of Characters, A Second Fall From Grace

Broidy—Republican donor, influence-peddler and defense contractor—has a checkered past, to say the least. And it’s not his first fall from Grace.

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From 2006 to 2008, Broidy was the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee—a period of time during which he made a huge fortune; most notably by bribing New York State officials to the tune of $1 million in return for $18 million in management fees for the New York state pension fund. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of rewarding official misconduct and agreed to pay back $18 million and got his charge reduced to a misdemeanor.

Now, not only is it being aired that he was doing some crown prince dirty laundry and hoping to make a billion through influence peddling, but he’s also embroiled in one of the Trump administration’s sex scandals.

After failing on Qatar, some speculate that Broidy took responsibility for a $1.6-billion in hush money paid to a Playboy mistress who ended up pregnant. As far as theories go, taking responsibility would have boosted Broidy’s influence-peddling position in D.C. and put him back in the game.

Nader is another savory character, and a convicted pedophile who serve prison time in the Czech Republic for 10 counts of sexually abusing minors in 2003. The Czechs put him behind bars and then kicked him out of the country when his time was served. In the 1990s, he was a major influence peddler in Washington both for the Israelis and Arabs and he jumped at his change to make a fortune on contracts in 2003 when the dust settled on the war in Iraq, working with the infamous Erik Prince of very murky Blackwater fame.

For the purposes of the Qatar schmoozing, it was Nader’s relationship with Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (aka MBZ), one of Broidy’s ingratiation targets.

While at one point in the email exchanges released by AP Broidy brags of having flipped California Republican Rep. Ed Royce against Qatar (which a spokesman for Royce denied even after Royce publicly praised a Saudi general), Nader was busy, too. Nader bragged about a “magnificent meeting” with MBS (Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman), and the $1 billion in contracts looked like a sure thing.

But all the money floating around from Nader to Broidy and on to Washington made Broidy a foreign agent—and an unregistered one. That’s risky business with Mueller on the prowl.

But before the final fall from grace, the Broidy-Nader due managed to launch an anti-Qatar media blitz of immense proportions.

According to AP, not only did they get the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (a ‘think tank’) to hold an anti-Qatar conference, but they also put together some 200 articles to hit the point home and slipped op-ed piece into the Wall Street Journal in April 2017 that was co-authored by a retired Air Force General who was part of a Broidy company trying to win defense contracts in Saudi Arabia. The op-ed piece, entitled “The Two Faces of Qatar, a Dubious Mideast Ally” argued for moving a key U.S. military air base out of Qatar and setting it up in UAE instead.  

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This snowballed into a bunch of other anti-Qatar pieces because the mainstream media largely regurgitates instead of reports these days, Broidy was able to brag to his favorite crown princes that his influence peddling was working. Trump, always too quick with the Twitter finger, jumped on this band wagon with some anti-Qatar tweets. But his babysitters in the White House stepped in to put out that fire and Qatar ended up getting a $12-billion fighter jet deal right away, to make sure everyone knew that Washington hadn’t suddenly turned against the country.

It was so successful (at first) that Nader thought he could demand a photo with Trump, but it wouldn’t happen without a sizable ‘donation’, according to AP.

But that’s as far as things went, and the anti-Qatar play lost its mojo as Broidy and Nader became embroiled in Meuller’s investigation. Broidy has accused Qatar of framing him. The once-loved crown princes have distanced themselves from the pair, and Washington just wants the Saudis to stop targeting Qatar at this point.

By Charles Benavidez for Safehaven.com

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