The Trump Administration Has Sought to Illegally Transfer Nuclear Technology to the Government of Saudi Arabia
(August 7, 2019) — As documented by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform (see background link and Executive Summary below), approval of Congress is required to transfer nuclear technology to a foreign country.
Congress has not given its approval to such transfers to Saudi Arabia, which has not committed to avoiding activities linked to proliferation, but has, on the contrary, publicly threatened to develop nuclear weapons.
Team Trump has nonetheless made efforts on behalf of IP3 International, a consortium of private companies that would profit financially by transfering nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
Trump has, moreover, completely refused to cooperate with the Congressional Committee investigation of this matter, and not produced a single document requested.
Enough is enough. It’s time for impeachment.
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Trump Impeachment FAQ
But we don’t want Mike Pence to become president, do we?
The question of who is worse, the current president or the vice president, is a very different question from this one: “Who is worse, President Trump in an era of unchecked power and immunity, or President Pence in an age of popular sovereignty with the threat of impeachment looming behind every high-crime-and-misdemeanor that comes up for consideration by the White House?”
We believe changing the office of the presidency into one that can be lost for substantive crimes and abuses — a radical change from its current state — would be a crucial step toward genuine democracy. Part of that significance would derive from the benefits of building the movement that imposes impeachment on a corrupted and partisan and reluctant Congress.
Deep and long-term political change comes principally from movement-building, which is what will prevent future Trumps and Pences. As Trump’s reign of disaster continues, justifications for allowing it to continue appear ever weaker. And, if the most sycophantic worshiper of Trump on the national stage, Mike Pence, becomes president after the removal of a discredited Trump, Pence will be one of the weakest presidents in modern history.
Even weaker than Gerald Ford, who had far more distance from Nixon, the discredited president he replaced. In addition, one of our draft articles of impeachment applies to both Trump and Pence.
Why punish a successful business man?
We can set aside the legality and morality of Trump’s business success, and the question of how successful he has been. A campaign to impeach him for his violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses can hold the position that Trump is perfectly welcome to keep all of his businesses and loans. He just cannot simultaneously hold an office in which they create gross violations of the U.S. Constitution.
Past presidents have sold off their assets or placed them in a blind trust. A blind trust would not, however, be blind for Trump who would inevitably learn of the approval of new towers or the sale of properties. Selling (and using a truly blind trust to do so) was Trump’s only option other than not being president. He chose not to take his only constitutional choice.
Is this partisanship?
A great many people do anything political for partisan reasons. It is inevitable that people will favor or oppose impeaching Trump for partisan reasons. But they need not. The charges against Trump are largely unprecedented. They should apply to him and any future presidents who engage in similar abuses, regardless of party.
Someone who voted for Trump as a way out of corruption should want him impeached as much as someone who voted against him for the same reason. Trump is now the worst possible “insider” — using public office for personal greed.
Is this personal?
A great many people focus their political interest on personalities rather than policies. They forbid themselves to praise a good action by a politician who mostly makes bad ones, or to condemn a bad one by a hero. They make heroes of whoever is not their enemy, and vice versa.
They place greater importance on whether they’d like to be friends with someone than on whether that person will benefit or harm the world. Many will support or oppose impeaching Trump based on whether they consider him awful or inspiring. They shouldn’t and need not.
Why not impeach Trump for being a Russian agent?
If such evidence ever emerges, then at that time it should be pursued.
Do you really think Congress will impeach a president?
Yes, it certainly might, especially as the evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors” accumulates and Trump’s popularity sinks even lower than its current record level — an effect that just opening an impeachment process has usually contributed to. But even an unsuccessful impeachment effort can have seriously beneficial results, including helping to end the Vietnam War and ending Nixon’s presidency.
Do you really think everything is normal and nothing radical is needed?
Useful strategies are desperately needed, and impeachment is one of them. Others are marches, sit-ins, petitions, media production, legislation, strikes, refusals to cooperate with illegal actions, protection of those in danger, peace initiatives, local and global moves toward sustainable economies, boycotts, divestments, foreign exchanges, art work, parades, etc., etc.
But a nonviolent movement seeking to overturn an abusive government would fantasize about an impeachment provision if it didn’t exist. It’s one of the best gifts that the drafters of the Constitution gave us. Continuing to neglect the power of impeachment would be a terrible waste.
Isn’t impeachment a trick by the evil System which is rotten to the core and wants us to think it is capable of reform?
No. The system may be rotten to the core, but the question is how to fix it. Impeachment can be a very useful tool for that, and is clearly not one longed for by either big political party.
Do you really think something as radical as impeachment is needed?
If it’s not needed now, when would it be?
Shouldn’t we all focus on electing Democrats to the House of Representatives first?
No. Numerous impeachment efforts over the centuries, of presidents and many other high officials, have led to reforms and resignations short of reaching impeachments or convictions. In numerous cases, representatives and senators have put justice ahead of partisanship. In numerous cases, the effort has had to build for months or years before having an impact.
In numerous cases, whether impeachment efforts or all sorts of other dramatic social and political changes, the common wisdom has predicted defeat until shortly prior to victory. It is also important for us to understand the position of the leaders of the Democratic Party, based on their past performance and their public statements. They apparently do not want a Trump impeachment, not now or ever.
If we are going to make impeachment happen, if we are going to move members of either party to support it, and if we are going to make it effective in achieving reform and setting a precedent, then we need to advance impeachment as a non-partisan and urgent matter. It’s urgency is no pretense. Every moment he remains in office, Trump increases the risk of environmental and/or nuclear catastrophe.
Wasn’t impeaching Clinton a bad idea, thus making all impeachments bad ideas?
The impeachment of Bill Clinton was not driven by public demand, and was, in fact, unpopular with the U.S. public. Other impeachments have been very popular with the public. Clinton had 66% approval, while Trump has 42%.
Clinton was impeached for how he responded to an investigation that turned up very little. Trump could be impeached in a very similar manner, or he could be impeached for any number of important and indisputable abuses of power. And those abuses could be made known to the U.S. public through impeachment hearings of the sort that had a powerful impact on the public during the process to impeach Richard Nixon.
While impeaching Clinton was unpopular, it did not negatively impact Republicans in any major way; they kept control of both houses of Congress and claimed the White House. Here is a column that explored this question.
Back to Impeach Donald Trump main page
Corporate and Foreign Interests Behind White House Push to Transfer U.S. Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia
Prepared for Chairman Elijah E. Cummings
Second Interim Staff Report Committee on Oversight and Reform U.S. House of Representatives
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (July 2019)
On February 19, 2019, the Committee on Oversight and Reform issued an interim staff report prepared for Chairman Elijah E. Cummings after multiple whistleblowers came forward to warn about efforts inside the White House to rush the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
As explained in the first interim staff report, under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, the United States may not transfer nuclear technology to a foreign country without the approval of Congress in order to ensure that the agreement meets nine nonproliferation requirements to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
These agreements, commonly known as “123 Agreements,” are typically negotiated with career experts at the National Security Council (NSC) and the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy.
The “Gold Standard” for 123 Agreements is a commitment by the foreign country not to enrich or re-process nuclear fuel and not to engage in activities linked to the risk of nuclear proliferation. During the Obama Administration, Saudi Arabia refused to agree to the Gold Standard. During the Trump Administration, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) went further, proclaiming: “Without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.”
There is strong bipartisan opposition to abandoning the “Gold Standard” for Saudi Arabia in any future 123 Agreement. For example, in a letter to President Trump, Republican Senators Marco Rubio, Todd Young, Cory Gardner, Rand Paul, and Dean Heller wrote:
Given your Administration’s ongoing efforts to press the Iranian regime—in the words of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—to “stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing,” we have long believed that it is therefore critical and necessary for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to accept and uphold this “Gold Standard” for responsible nuclear behavior.
The Committee’s first interim staff report explained that whistleblowers inside the White House expressed alarm about corporate interests attempting to use their influence with the Trump Administration to bypass these concerns in order to serve their own financial interests in building nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia. The Committee received documents bolstering the whistleblowers’ accounts and showing frequent communications between these corporate interests and Trump Administration officials.
This report—the Committee’s second interim staff report on this issue—is based on more than 60,000 pages of new documents obtained by the Committee since it issued its first interim staff report in February. These documents have been produced in response to requests that Chairman Cummings made to a host of outside companies about their involvement with these efforts.
Overall, the new documents obtained by the Committee reveal that, with regard to Saudi Arabia, the Trump Administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policymaking from corporate and foreign interests. The documents show the Administration’s willingness to let private parties with close ties to the President wield outsized influence over U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia.
These new documents raise serious questions about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President’s friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
New documents obtained by the Committee reveal that contacts between private commercial interests and high-level Trump Administration officials were more frequent, wide- ranging, and influential than previously known—and continue to the present day.
IP3 International—a private company that assembled a consortium of U.S. companies seeking to build nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia—repeatedly pressed the Trump Administration not to require Saudi Arabia to commit to the “Gold Standard” in any future 123 Agreement, complaining that it would lock them out of lucrative nuclear contracts with the Saudis. In emails to other industry officials, IP3 called the Gold Standard an “obstacle” to be overcome. Industry executives reported that IP3 complained that the Gold Standard was a “total roadblock” that “killed our leverage.”
The new documents show that IP3 officials have had unprecedented access to the highest levels of the Trump Administration, including meeting directly with President Trump, Jared Kushner, Gary Cohn, KT McFarland, and Cabinet Secretaries Rick Perry, Steven Mnuchin, Mike Pompeo, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, and Wilbur Ross. IP3 described the Trump Administration as “an extended team member.”
One of the key individuals leveraging his close ties to President Trump and the Administration to promote his own interests has been the President’s longtime personal friend, campaign donor, and inaugural chairman, Thomas J. Barrack, Jr., who began communicating with IP3 just days before the inauguration in January 2017.
New documents show that Mr. Barrack negotiated directly with President Trump and other White House officials to seek powerful positions within the Administration—including Special Envoy to the Middle East and Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates—at the same time he was (1) promoting the interests of U.S. corporations seeking to profit from the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia; (2) advocating on behalf of foreign interests seeking to obtain this U.S. nuclear technology; and (3) taking steps for his own company, Colony NorthStar, to profit from the same proposals he was advancing with the Administration.
A key component of Mr. Barrack’s plan, which he called the Middle East Marshall Plan, was to purchase Westinghouse Electric Company—the only U.S. manufacturer of large-scale nuclear reactors—using significant Saudi and Emirati capital, but with enough U.S. ownership to bypass scrutiny from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
The new documents obtained by the Committee show that the unique access that Mr. Barrack and IP3 officials enjoyed with the Trump Administration yielded promises from high- level government officials to support IP3’s efforts with Saudi officials. After meeting personally with President Trump in February of this year, IP3’s Chief Executive Officer explained to other industry executives, “This needs to be a Military like campaign and that’s what we intend to build.”
Yet, officials from other companies in the nuclear industry had serious concerns about IP3 and its financial motive in pressing for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, calling it a “boondoggle,” warning that “IP3 has a questionable reputation,” and observing, “This whole IP3 effort is still a bit strange and mysterious.” One industry executive called IP3 the “Theranos of the nuclear industry.”
The Trump Administration’s efforts towards transferring nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia continue despite growing concerns over anti-democratic and aggressive actions taken by the Saudi regime. For example, during an interview on June 21, 2019, President Trump stated that he would not follow the United Nations’ request to have the FBI investigate the Saudi murder of Jamal Khashoggi. In the same interview, he also stated, “Look, Saudi Arabia is buying $400 billion worth of things for us. That’s a very good thing.” He added:
I’m not like a fool that says, “We don’t want to do business with them.” And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese. They will buy—We make the best equipment in the world, but they will buy great equipment from Russia and from China.
On June 28, 2019, at a press conference before a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, President Trump stated: “It’s an honor to be with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, a friend of mine—a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia.”
- · In 2015 to 2016, General Michael Flynn worked closely with companies seeking to profit from the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, including by serving as an advisor to IP3, as well as IP3’s predecessor company. New documents show that in 2016, General Flynn informed his business partners about upcoming interactions with officials in Russia and the Middle East—including Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-Saudi Deputy Crown Prince MBS—and offered to use these contacts to further IP3’s business interests.
On May 26, 2016, candidate Donald Trump was scheduled to give a major energy speech. New documents show that Mr. Barrack—Donald Trump’s personal friend, informal advisor, inauguration chairman, and campaign donor—shared a draft of the speech with Saudi and Emirati officials to coordinate pro-Gulf language. Mr. Barrack sent the draft to Rashid Al-Malik, a businessman from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who circulated the draft among Emirati and Saudi officials and then passed suggestions back to Mr. Barrack, who conveyed them to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
- · IP3 officials traveled to Saudi Arabia in December 2016—after the election and before the inauguration—to solicit a $120 million investment from then-Saudi Deputy Crown Prince MBS in exchange for a 10% stake in IP3. The documents suggest that IP3 was soliciting these funds by highlighting its close ties to General Flynn and the support of the incoming Trump Administration for IP3’s plan to transfer U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia. In direct communications with General Flynn, IP3 officials wrote that “much of our confidence derives from how emphatically positive your message expressing your—and the President Elect’s—support for the Marshall Plan, was received by the leadership of KSA [Kingdom of Saudi Arabia].”
- · President Trump and Jared Kushner met with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince MBS on March 14, 2017. In the days after this meeting, IP3 officials touted that this meeting “established the framework for our unique opportunity to take the next steps with IP3 and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and referenced a “partnership to acquire Westinghouse between IP3 and Saudi Arabia.” IP3 officials continued to promote their plan with high- level stakeholders—including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and top NSC officials.
- · Mr. Barrack, his company, and IP3 discussed plans to join with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and other Middle East financial interests to bid for Westinghouse at the same time they sought and obtained support for this acquisition strategy at the highest levels of the White House.
- · IP3 officials met with Senior Adviser to the President Jared Kushner and briefed him on their plan for Westinghouse to be acquired through foreign investments. Mr. Kushner expressed that he planned to convene senior-level interagency meetings to discuss IP3’s proposal and Westinghouse.
- · Mr. Barrack’s company and IP3 collaborated with financial firms Apollo and Blackstone on an ultimately unsuccessful bid to purchase Westinghouse. Mr. Barrack sent Blackstone CEO and Trump campaign donor Steve Schwarzman a memorandum stating, “Our GCC allies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have committed to invest in the Westinghouse acquisition and are willing to concurrently lock in Westinghouse as the primary partner on the 30+ reactors expected to be constructed in their countries in the coming decade.” The memorandum described this arrangement as an opportunity to acquire Westinghouse “in a whole company transaction through a US-led consortium with our allies from the GCC.”
In 2018, after Mr. Barrack learned that his bid with Apollo and Blackstone had been unsuccessful—and Brookfield Asset Management announced that it planned to acquire Westinghouse—Mr. Barrack inquired with Brookfield’s CEO about joining his company’s venture. Mr. Barrack then introduced UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba to Brookfield’s CEO, emphasizing the “great opportunity for Westinghouse and the Emirates to join forces on new initiatives.”
- · In early 2018, Westinghouse unilaterally terminated IP3 from a separate agreement for a consortium of companies that submitted the “Team USA” bid to Saudi Arabia for the contract to build nuclear reactors. Westinghouse reportedly expressed concerns that “IP3’s actions may create a faulty assumption that IP3 is in charge.” In response, IP3 joined with the Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)’s bid to build nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia using U.S. nuclear technology.
- · Throughout 2018, IP3 continued to leverage its connections with the Trump Administration, holding meetings at the White House and with other agencies. IP3 officials boasted of “unique access” to President Trump and senior White House officials, disparaged growing bipartisan congressional efforts to limit the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, and characterized the “Gold Standard” of prohibiting Saudi Arabia from enriching uranium for weapons as an obstacle to be “overcome.”
- · IP3’s efforts to influence the Trump Administration and profit from transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia continue to this day. In February 2019, IP3 orchestrated a meeting with President Trump and nuclear industry executives at the White House. IP3 also planned a meeting with National Security Advisor John Bolton in March 2019, but it was cancelled because of “legal and ethical concerns.” Two years earlier, NSC Legal Advisor John Eisenberg had ordered NSC employees to stop working on IP3-related matters due to conflicts of interest and potential violations of federal law.
Missing from this second interim staff report are documents from the Trump Administration itself. The White House has completely refused to cooperate with the Committee’s investigation and has not produced a single document in response to the Committee’s requests. Unfortunately, for the most part, the federal agencies involved have followed suit.
Although the White House has refused to produce any documents in this investigation, the Committee has obtained some communications to and from White House officials from outside sources. Based on these communications, it appears that multiple White House officials used their personal email and text accounts rather than their official government accounts.
These actions not only potentially violate White House policy and the Presidential Records Act, but they raise serious questions about whether records of the Trump Administration’s actions are being properly retained for use by investigators and others.
As a result of the White House’s actions, it may be necessary for the Committee to seek compulsory process to obtain information from the White House, federal agencies, and individual Trump Administration officials.
Read the full report at this link.