Top Trump officials chose to ignore warnings about selling nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
Top Trump officials ignored warning from ethics officials and national security personnel as they looked to sell sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, according to a new report from the House Oversight Committee released on Tuesday.
The report is based on documents obtained by the committee and claims from whistleblowers within the administration who spoke about efforts to "rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia," possibly in violation of the law and definitely against the advice of national security officials.
Trump's political appointees were ordered to halt the project because of a litany of concerns, including potential conflicts of interest, national security risks, and legal hurdles. But they chose to proceed.
The plan was to build nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia, but the technology could possibly be used to manufacture nuclear weapons. If that is the case, such a sale would require approval from Congress, according to the Atomic Energy Act. The whistleblowers warned of "potential procedural and legal violations" with the plan hatched in the early days of the Trump administration.
The effort was spearheaded by former Trump campaign surrogate and disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who was pushing a deal which could have brought a financial windfall to one of his former clients.
Once ethics officials became aware of the potential deal, National Security Council (NSC) officials warned it was a potential conflict of interest.
"One senior political official stated that the proposal was 'not a business plan,' but rather 'a scheme for these generals to make some money,'" according to the report.
Flynn — who has since pled guilty to lying to the FBI and is a cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigations — was not the only person to potentially benefit.
One of the companies that could have built the power plants is connected to Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law. The manufacturer is a subsidiary of Brookfield Asset Management, the company that bailed out Kushner when one of Kushner's real estate deals was in dire financial straights.
The shocking revelations brought about a swift response from members of Congress.
"What is driving this policy of subservience of American national security interests to the interests of Saudi Arabia?" asked Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee in a statement. Schiff promised to work with Cummings to look into these matters.
A new member of the Oversight Committee, Rep. Harley Rouda (D-CA), stressed that the report "reveals that White House advisors including Michael Flynn & Jared Kushner were & possibly still are working to rush highly sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, and some stood to personally make money off new power plants." He added that the committee will continue to investigate the issue.
Despite warnings from the NSC and ethics lawyers, the report notes that the White House is continuing to meet and discuss the possibility of selling nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia as recently as this month.
It seems the Trump White House won't let legal or ethical issues get in the way of ill-gotten profit.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.