Archive for September 13th, 2017

Trump says ‘it’s an honor’ to host Malaysian PM who faces corruption probe over national wealth fund which gave Leo di Caprio a Picasso – as dignitary beds down in Trump hotel

*President Donald Trump met at the White House with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak
*The Justice Department says people close to Najib stole billions of dollars
*Trump said it was a ‘great honor’ to have him in the White House
*Trump said a deal for Malaysia to buy Boeing planes is worth up to $20 billion
*He called Malaysia a ‘massive investor in the United States in terms of stocks and bonds’
*White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders ‘not aware’ if corruption accusation came up
*The prime minister was spotted repeatedly at Trump’s D.C. luxury hotel
*Malaysia’s government has found no criminal wrongdoing with the 1MDB fund founded by Najib
*U.S. Justice Department investigation for possible money laundering
*Najib says Malaysia plans to invest $4 billion in Trump’s infrastructure plan

By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.s. Political Editor For and Associated PressDaily Mail, UK
12 September 2017

President Donald Trump said it was a ‘great honor’ to have the prime minister of Malaysia at the White House, and the president’s spokeswoman said she wasn’t aware whether a massive corruption investigation of his associates came up.

Trump praised Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for his country’s investments in the U.S. – and singled out purchases of Boeing aircraft that could hit $20 billion. Read the rest of this entry »


Trump hosts scandal-hit Malaysian PM


Washington – US President Donald Trump hosts Malaysia’s prime minister at the White House Tuesday, a meeting that risks being overshadowed by his guest’s spiraling corruption scandal.

Prime Minister Najib Razak will visit the Oval Office for talks that the White House says will be focused on terrorism, trade and Asian maritime disputes.

But the run-up to Najib’s arrival has been dominated by questions about his entanglement in an ongoing US Justice Department investigation.

The veteran prime minister faces allegations that billions were looted from a sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), in complex overseas deals that are being investigated by authorities in several countries, including the United States.

Both the prime minister and the fund deny any wrongdoing, but the Justice Department has filed civil lawsuits to seize assets, from high-end real estate to artworks, it says are worth about $1.7 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump meeting with Malaysian prime minister comes under scrutiny

PBS Newshour
September 12, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump praised Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak for his country’s financial investments in U.S. companies during a meeting Tuesday at the White House and thanked him for helping to fight Islamic State militants.

Left unsaid by either leader: anything about the massive corruption scandal swirling around Najib’s multibillion-dollar state fund.

Malaysia’s government has said it found no criminal wrongdoing at the fund, called 1MDB and founded by Najib. But it has been at the center of investigations in the U.S. and several countries amid allegations of a global embezzlement and money-laundering scheme.

The U.S. Justice Department says people close to Najib stole billions of dollars, and the federal government is working to seize $1.7 billion it says was taken from the fund to buy assets in the U.S. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump welcomes Malaysian leader, despite advocates’ concerns

By Annie Linskey
Boston Globe
Sept. 12, 2017

WASHINGTON — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is linked to a multibillion-dollar embezzlement scandal, and human rights groups say he has limited free speech, imprisoned opposition leaders, and locked up Malaysians who have “insulted” the government.

But on Tuesday, Najib was greeted at the White House by President Trump, who listened to his guest’s pledge to invest billions of dollars for US infrastructure while publicly ignoring his links to the scandal that the Justice Department is actively probing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump, Malaysia’s Najib skirt round U.S. probe into 1MDB scandal

Roberta Rampton, David Brunnstrom
SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to the White House on Tuesday, praising his country for investing in the United States while steering clear of an American investigation into a Malaysian corruption scandal.

The visit is important for Najib, who faces elections next year and wants to signal he is still welcome at the White House despite a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department into a state fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Read the rest of this entry »

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Trump Welcomes Najib Razak, the Malaysian Leader, as President, and Owner of a Fine Hotel

New York Times
SEPT. 12, 2017

WASHINGTON — When President Trump welcomed Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, to the White House on Tuesday, he thanked him for “all the investment you’ve made in the United States.”

Mr. Trump did not single out Mr. Najib’s patronage of his hotel two blocks from the White House, but he could have: the Malaysian leader was spotted entering and exiting the Trump International Hotel, with his entourage, on Monday and Tuesday.

The White House denied that Mr. Najib had picked the hotel at Mr. Trump’s behest. “We certainly don’t book their hotel accommodations,” the press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said, “so I couldn’t speak to the personal decision they made about where to stay here in D.C.”

Whatever the motivation, the choice of lodgings added to the awkwardness of a meeting already replete with ethical questions. Mr. Najib is under investigation by the Justice Department, part of a corruption scandal that critics said he has fended off by firing investigators and dismissing negative news reports about him as “fake news.”

In these respects, he is not unlike Mr. Trump. So it was perhaps not a surprise that the two leaders skipped a news conference, kept their public remarks brief, and stayed on the safe ground of trade and counterterrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib should open up, invite and answer questions about the 1MDB scandal and Malaysia as a global kleptocracy when he visits the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before the end of his three-day visit to United States

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has visited the White House and met President Trump but he continues to be hounded and haunted by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) largest kleptocratic suit to forfeit some US$1.7 billion 1MDB-linked assets in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland.

The jury is out as to whether Najib could capitalize on his White House visit and meeting with President Trump for his benefit in the run-up to the 14th General Election, or whether it would be a deadweight to sink his premiership and coalition in the next general election.

The missing “elephant” in the Trump-Najib meeting is not only the talk of Malaysians and Americans, but the whole world – as never before had any Malaysian Prime Minister or possibly any visiting foreign leader who had been bombarded by such a bad press, both in the United States and world-wide.

What is worse, Najib’s visit has added a new ethical conundrum for both Trump and Najib – as the Malaysian Prime Minister and his entourage are staying at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, raising the question whether Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution which forbids presidents from receiving gifts or payment for services rendered from foreign governments while in office.

Those who believe that Najib’s visit to the White House will ipso facto put the 1MDB scandal behind him are being incredibly naïve, for all that Najib’s visit to the White House has done is to present an unprecedented spectacle of two leaders who are both under investigation by the US DOJ – the Malaysian Prime Minister and the US President, one for theft and money-laundering of more than US$4.5 billion over six years from 1MDB and the other on whether Trump’s current or former aides colluded with Russian intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign. Read the rest of this entry »


Trump meets Malaysia leader under investigation by his Justice Department

By Kevin Liptak,
CNN White House Producer
September 12, 2017

Washington (CNN) Malaysia’s prime minister visited the White House on Tuesday seeking a dose of legitimacy amid a US Justice Department investigation into his finances.

The US Justice Department criminal probe into Prime Minister Najib Razak centers around billions of dollars in assets the US claims were acquired using a government fund and laundered through American firms. Najib denies any wrongdoing.

In meeting with him at the White House, President Donald Trump hoped to cultivate a dependable ally in Asia, but the visit made for awkward timing.

Last month, the Justice Department shifted its focus from seizing the disputed assets — including real estate, art, jewelry and movie rights — to a criminal investigation into the money used to purchase them. The US asserts the money was stolen from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment fund that Najib founded.

The corruption matter didn’t arise, at least in public, during Najib’s visit. Seated around the Cabinet Room table at the White House, the men praised new cooperation between their two countries, including agreements for sales of US-made Boeing jets and General Electric engines. Read the rest of this entry »

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From Trump hotel lobby to White House, Malaysian prime minister gets VIP treatment

By Jonathan O’Connell
Washington Post
September 12, 2017

Malaysian prime minister’s visit to Trump International Hotel could be violation of Constitution’s emoluments clause

Before arriving at the White House late Tuesday morning to meet with President Trump, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak strode through the golden doors of an elevator at the Trump International Hotel and past the lounge to his waiting motorcade.

The prime minister’s official White House visit also brought at least 24 hours of activity and sales to the glamorous 263-room hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue that Trump owns through a trust. And it is likely to escalate debate over whether the president is benefiting from a luxury property that has become Washington’s new power center — and, its critics say, a staging area for those seeking White House access.

Hotel staffers and Malaysian officials declined to say whether Najib and the other officials stayed overnight at the hotel, among the most expensive in Washington, or if they did stay, for how long.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dismissed a question about the delegation’s stay. “We certainly don’t book their hotel accommodations,” she told reporters Tuesday. Read the rest of this entry »

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