Saudis spent $270K at Trump hotel amid lobbying efforts: report

Saudis spent $270K at Trump hotel amid lobbying efforts: report
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Saudi Arabia reportedly spent more than a quarter of a million dollars at President Trump’s Washington hotel as part of their lobbying efforts against a controversial terrorism-related law.

The kingdom hired lobbyists and consultants to push back against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which would allow U.S. citizens to sue other governments for terrorist attacks, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

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Those hired individuals then spent about $190,000 on lodging, $78,000 on catering as well as $1,600 on parking at the Trump-owned luxury hotel, The Daily Caller first reported.

MSLGroup, a public relations firm, disclosed the kingdom’s payments last week while filing the foreign lobbying paperwork with the Justice Department.

Michael Petruzzello, an MSLGroup executive, told the Journal that a subcontractor in the company first made the payments to the Trump International Hotel, which the Saudi government then reimbursed. Petruzello acknowledged that the efforts were part of a lobbying campaign in which military veterans would be brought to Capitol Hill to speak out against the legislation.

Congress passed JASTA last year, over then-President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAll five living former presidents to attend hurricane relief concert Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Interior moves to delay Obama’s methane leak rule MORE’s veto.

Victims’ families and survivors from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks had been pushing for legislation like JASTA which would allow them to sue any foreign government allegedly involved. 

The Saudi government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the terror plot, and U.S. officials have supported their stance.

Trump visited Saudi Arabia on his first international trip last month, where he spoke about their mutual efforts to fight against terrorism. 

Lobbying payments from foreign governments to the president's companies have raised ethics questions on whether the president is completely separated from his businesses.

Trump said the Trump Organization would donate any profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury earlier this year, but the company has so far declined to give details about how it is handling such profits, the Journal reported.

The White House referred the Journal’s payment questions to the Trump Organization. A spokeswoman for the company didn’t respond to the newspaper’s question about how it would handle the Saudi Arabian payments.