Re­ports reveal Qatari moves to in­flu­ence Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - JOYCE KARAM Wash­ing­ton

Qatari con­tacts with Don­ald Trump’s em­bat­tled lawyer Michael Cohen and im­mi­nent busi­ness deals with the fam­ily of his son-in-law, Jared Kush­ner, are com­ing to the sur­face, along with other channels that Doha has re­port­edly pur­sued to in­flu­ence the US pres­i­dent.

On Thurs­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post con­firmed a meet­ing on De­cem­ber 12, 2016 be­tween Qatar’s Foreign Min­is­ter Mo­hammed bin Ab­dul­rah­man Al Thani with now-in­dicted for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn and for­mer strate­gist Steve Ban­non.

The meet­ing was re­port­edly pre­ceded by sep­a­rate talks

be­tween Mr Cohen and the head of the Qatar In­vest­ment Author­ity, Ahmed Al Ru­maihi, first at a break­fast fund-raiser in New York and later in the week at the Penin­sula Ho­tel in Man­hat­tan.

Mr Cohen, whose of­fices were raided by the FBI on April 9, sought a pay­ment of “at least US$1 mil­lion (Dh3.67m) from the gov­ern­ment of Qatar in late 2016, in ex­change for ac­cess to and ad­vice about the in­com­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion”, ac­cord­ing to the Post. It said the of­fer was de­clined but Mr Al Ru­maihi told Mr Trump’s lawyer that Qatar would in­vest in the US in­fra­struc­ture pro­gramme.

Six days later, Doha an­nounced a $10 bil­lion in­vest­ment in the pro­gramme. Also on Thurs­day, The New

York Times re­ported that Brook­field Prop­er­ties, “the com­pany con­trolled by the fam­ily of the White House ad­viser Jared Kush­ner”, was “close to re­ceiv­ing a bailout of its fi­nan­cially trou­bled flag­ship build­ing by a com­pany with ties to the gov­ern­ment of Qatar”, cit­ing ex­ec­u­tives briefed on the agree­ment.

This rep­re­sents a change of direc­tion in the busi­ness talks be­tween the Kush­ner fam­ily and Qatar. The Wash­ing­ton

Post re­ported last year that Mr Kush­ner’s fa­ther, Charles Kush­ner, at the re­quest of Doha, “met with Qatar’s fi­nance min­is­ter [Ali Sharif Al Emadi] three months af­ter Mr Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, at a New York City ses­sion at which fund­ing for a fi­nan­cially trou­bled real es­tate project was dis­cussed”.

How­ever, back then, the el­der Kush­ner “turned down pos­si­ble fund­ing to avoid ques­tions of a con­flict of in­ter­est for his son”, ac­cord­ing to the news­pa­per.

The new de­tails emerged as Michael Ave­natti, the lawyer for ac­tress Stormy Daniels, who is su­ing Mr Trump over an al­leged af­fair, posted on Twit­ter al­le­ga­tions and pho­tos that have put the fo­cus on Qatari ties with Mr Cohen and foreign at­tempts to in­flu­ence the pres­i­dent.

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