This blog continues the discussion that we began with Epic Journey: The 2008 Elections and American Politics (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009).The latest book in this series is Defying the Odds: the 2016 Elections and American Politics.
Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, issued an interim staff report after multiple whistleblowers came forward to warn about efforts inside the White House to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act and without review by Congress as required by law—efforts that may be ongoing to this day. The report states:
“The whistleblowers who came forward have expressed significant concerns about the potential procedural and legal violations connected with rushing through a plan to transfer nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. They have warned of conflicts of interest among top White House advisers that could implicate federal criminal statutes. They have also warned about a working environment inside the White House marked by chaos, dysfunction, and backbiting. And they have warned about political appointees ignoring directives from top ethics advisors at the White House who repeatedly and unsuccessfully ordered senior Trump Administration officials to halt their efforts.”
The report warns that that White House efforts to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia may be accelerating after meetings last week at the White House and ahead of a planned visit to Saudi Arabia by the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner:
“The Committee’s investigation is particularly critical because the Administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia appear to be ongoing. On February 12, 2019, the President met with nuclear power developers at the White House about sharing nuclear technology with countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. In addition, next week Mr. Kushner will be embarking on a tour of Middle Eastern capitals—including Riyadh—to discuss the economic portion of the Administration’s Middle East peace plan.”
The report highlights concerning events involving Saudi Arabia, including the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which was met with equivocation by President Trump and other top Administration officials, and the refusal by the White House to submit a report on Mr. Khashoggi’s killing that was requested on a bipartisan basis by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
The report indicates that there is now serious, bipartisan concern with the Trump Administration’s efforts to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. For example, on October 31, 2018, Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Todd Young, Cory Gardner, Rand Paul, and Dean Heller sent a letter to President Trump urging him to “suspend talks related to a potential civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia” due to “serious concerns about the transparency, accountability, and judgment of current decisionmakers in Saudi Arabia.”
The report describes new documents and communications between White House officials, including former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland, and former NSC Senior Director for Middle East and North African Affairs Derek Harvey, as well as with Thomas Barrack, President Trump’s personal friend of several decades and the Chairman of his Inaugural Committee, and Rick Gates, President Trump’s former Deputy Campaign Manager and Deputy Chairman of the Inaugural Committee who has now pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators.
Today, Cummings also sent letters to multiple entities involved with promoting this plan, including the White House; the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, State, and Treasury; the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Central Intelligence Agency; Flynn Intel Group; IP3; ACU Strategies; Colony NorthStar; and Mr. Barrack.
Click here to read the interim staff report.
Click here to read the documents released with the report.
Click here to read the letter to the White House.