The Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) group recently requested the DOJ and Congress launch an investigation into Trump after new details of LIV Golf funding were revealed showing that a wealth fund headed by the crown prince owns 93 percent of the LIV tournament and pays all costs associated with its events.
Trump has hosted a number of LIV Golf events at his resorts, and DAWN argues that through business deals, MBS has been paying Trump millions over the past few years. DAWN is requesting an investigation into the former president to determine if the dealings were legal. An investigation has not been launched at this time.
For any dealings between Trump and MBS to be illegal, they would have to have been conducted during Trump’s candidacy or his presidency. If the deals were conducted when Trump wasn’t running for office or serving as president, the dealings are only “unethical,” former federal prosecutor and West Coast Trial Lawyers President Neama Rahmani told Newsweek.
Rahmani said election law is clear in that a political candidate or someone in office can’t receive anything of value from a foreign government in connection with the election.
“If this happened after he was president and before he was [a 2024] candidate, it is wrong and unethical but not illegal,” Rahmani said.
What happens if an investigation is launched?
Should an investigation ensue, Rahmani said one of three things could happen. The first, and least serious, is investigators learn that Trump didn’t conduct any dealings while in office or running for office. The second possibility is that if a violation did occur, the Federal Election Commission may handle it administratively and Trump could be required to pay a penalty fee. The most serious possibility would be if the DOJ decides to criminally prosecute Trump for the business deals.
If launched, the investigation would be separate from other investigations into Trump regarding the alleged mishandling of classified documents or the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Rahmani said the other investigations are “far more serious” grounds for prosecution than Trump’s involvement with LIV Golf.
However, even if the deals were legal, Trump could experience political fallout.
Former federal prosecutor and elected state attorney Michael McAuliffe told Newsweek that voters may consider Trump’s involvement with Saudi Arabia before deciding whether to vote for him in 2024.
Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign for comment.