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Trump’s friend tried to profit from Middle East nuclear deal, lawmakers say

Congress report notes that Tom Barrack tried to buy Westinghouse while looking for a related government post

A billionaire friend of Donald Trump followed a plan to buy Westinghouse Electric Corp – even when he lobbyed Trump to become a special envoy and promote the company’s work on nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia, a conference report released Monday.

Although Tom Barrack failed in both attempts, the report provides new evidence of the ease with which some business and foreign interests have gained access to the US president and other senior members of his administration.

Documents obtained by the Democratic House Monitoring Committee raise “serious questions about whether the White House is willing to put the potential profit of the friends of the president above the national security of the American people and the universal purpose of the prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, “the report said.

The report is the second in the panel’s investigation into the plan to build 40 nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East. The plan was supported by Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn; Barrack, chairman of Trump’s inaugural committee; and a consortium of companies led by retired US military commanders and former White House officials named IP3.

One company was Westinghouse, the only American manufacturer of large reactors, which was bought out of bankruptcy by Brookfield Asset Management last August.

The report comes along with a number of other investigations into the administration being conducted by the panel chaired by US representative Elijah Cummings – including the use of personal texts and emails for official affairs by Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

Trump attacked Cummings, an African-American from Baltimore, in tweets that the president’s critics disapproved of at the weekend.

Monday’s report was largely based on thousands of documents from unidentified private companies. According to the report, the White House has not provided any documents, while other federal agencies have submitted some.

The committee can sue White House documents, it said.

Documents showed that Barrack negotiated with Trump and other White House officials to look for “powerful positions,” including special envoy from the Middle East, while taking steps to take advantage of the civilian nuclear plan he advocated.

An earlier commission report, published in February, said the efforts to promote nuclear energy started during the 2016 presidential campaign in Trump.

Trump officials continued to meet IP3, although White House lawyers instructed staff to stop working on the plan in January 2017 due to concerns that Flynn exceeded conflict of interest laws, according to that report. Flynn, fired by Trump in February 2017, advised IP3 during his campaign and transition team, said both reports.

White House lawyers were also concerned that promoters of the so-called “Middle East Marshall Plan” of the IP3 were trying to transfer US nuclear know-how to Saudi Arabia, even when opposing Riyads against certain safeguards, the reports. Known as the “Gold Standard”, the protections are designed to prevent the development of nuclear weapons. IP3 called the standard a “total roadblock,” according to Monday’s report.

A Barrack spokesperson said the billionaire had collaborated with the monitoring committee and provided him with the requested documents. Barrack’s investment and business development in the region fostered a “better-aligned Middle East,” he said. “This is not political, it is essential.”

The White House and IP3 did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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