Saudi Arabia spent nearly $27 million for U.S. lobbying in 2017, almost triple the amount that was spent in former President Obama’s final year in office, figures a Washington-based think tank compiled show.
Lobbying expenditures skyrocketed from the $10 million spent back in 2016, the left-leaning think tank Center for International Policy (CIP) discovered in an analysis of federal government data this month.
Those figures were reported by Time magazine earlier on Thursday.
The founder and director of Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative informed news outlet that America and Saudi Arabia’s relationship weakened somewhat under the previous administration.
“The Saudis had a pretty strained relationship with Obama,” Freeman noted, noting that the Saudis were displeased with the 2015 Iran deal which President Trump foolishly withdrew from earlier in the year.
“But with Trump, I think they saw the opportunity for a pretty important reset in U.S.-Saudi relations,” Freeman added. “And, really, for Trump they had someone who was already pretty biased to their point of view.”
Freeman brought up Trump’s business interests as the reason for Saudi Arabia’s friendliness in the last two years.
“He had these personal business connections that I think the Saudis were pretty prepared to capitalize on,” said Freeman in his interview with Time magazine.
President Trump said during a 2015 campaign/lies rally, “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me … They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”
Several Democratic senators sent a letter to Trump Wednesday regarding his business with Saudi Arabia.
“Your recent statements, and public reports of increased spending by the Saudi government at Trump properties, raise significant concerns about financial conflicts of interest,” the senators wrote.
The president’s massive business deals with the members of the kingdom are under increased scrutiny following the disappearance of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident and vocal Saudi critic.
Khashoggi disappeared he entered the Saudi consulate located in Istanbul, Turkey on Oct. 2. The Turkish authorities say he was tortured, murdered and then dismembered by the Saudi operatives in the embassy.
Trump has claimed “severe punishment” awaits those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, although his greed and corruption combined with his monetary interests in Saudi Arabia suggest otherwise.