Trump Dares the Fed Not to Stop Him From Starting a Recession

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Barrack had pursued business across the Middle East for decades, but he hadn’t done a deal with the massive Saudi fund. That changed after Trump’s 2016 presidential run, a time when Barrack straddled multiple roles— a leader of Colony, a campaign adviser and a key member of the presidential transition team. During that time, he also laid groundwork with the Saudis. Those interactions were more extensive than has been previously reported. Barrack jetted to a feast with a prince and also was invited to meet with key diplomats at Treasury, according to people familiar with the matter, whose accounts were supported by flight records and official calendars. . . The Saudi investment is in the nine figures, according to one person familiar with the matter.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Barrack—who, per Bloomberg, flew overseas in December 2016 to have dinner with the head of the Saudi wealth fund and Mohammed Bin Salman, while he was planning Trump’s inauguration and considering cabinet appointments— said it’s well known that he’s engaged in “investment and business development throughout the Middle East for the purpose of better aligned Middle East and U.S. objectives.” The spokesman added: “Mr. Barrack’s consistent attempts to bridge the divide of tolerance and understanding between these two great cultures is etched in the annals of time. This is not political, it is essential.”

Also etched in the annals of time: that time last February when Barrack said at a conference that we shouldn’t judge Saudi Arabia for chopping up Jamal Khashoggi because that’s basically standard operating procedure there and also MBS is just trying to make his mark on the world and, hey, the US. kidnaps, murders, and dismembers people all the time. (Actual quote: “Whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal or worse to the atrocities in Saudi Arabia. . . . The atrocities in any autocratic country are dictated by the rule of law. So for us to dictate what we think is the moral code there when we have a young man and a regime that’s trying to push themselves into 2030 I think is a mistake.”) Barrack ultimately offered a sort-of apology about the comment, but to be fair, he likely had other matters on his mind, like the criminal probe prosecutors launched in December into the spending of Trump’s inauguration committee, specifically, whether foreign donors from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia illegally funneled donations to the committee in order to influence U.S. policy, which of course is a thing this administration and it’s close personal friends would never, ever stand for. (Barrack is cooperating with the inquiry.)