The United States Department of Justice is ramping up its investigation into how former President Donald Trump has handled classified documents since his time in office ended. But what does that have to do with golf?
According to a New York Times report, amid the larger investigation the DOJ has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for records regarding LIV Golf and President Trump’s ties to the upstart circuit financially backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
In LIV Golf’s inaugural season last year, Trump National Bedminster and Trump National Doral both hosted events. The pair of properties will do so again in 2023, as will his resort in Potomac Falls, Virginia, outside of Washington, D.C.
From the report:
It is unclear what bearing Mr. Trump’s relationship with LIV Golf has on the broader investigation, but it suggests that the prosecutors are examining certain elements of Mr. Trump’s family business.
Last year the former president was heavily criticized for hosting LIV Golf just miles from New York City by a group of families of 9/11 victims and survivors.
“I’ve known these people for a long time in Saudi Arabia, they’ve been friends of mine for a long time,” explained Trump ahead of last year’s event at Trump National Bedminster. “They’ve invested in many American companies, they own big percentages of many, many American companies, and frankly what they’re doing for golf is so great.”
A New York City native, Trump’s comments came just days after families of 9/11 victims and survivors sent a letter to condemn the former president for hosting the Saudi-funded series. The letter expressed their “extreme pain, frustration and anger” and even included a quote from Trump’s 2016 comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks from a segment on Fox & Friends:
“ … Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis – it was Saudi. Take a look at Saudi Arabia. Open the documents. We ought to get Bush or somebody to have the documents opened because frankly, if you open the documents, I think you are going to see it was Saudi Arabia …”
“The former President correctly speculated in 2016 that Saudi Arabia knocked down the towers and now the FBI has released the documents to prove him right,” Brett Eagleson, an advocate for the 9/11 Justice group, told CNN at the time, “yet he is choosing money over America. So much for America First. A sad day.”
LIV Golf has long been criticized as a way for the Kingdom to “sportswash” its human rights record. Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.
The DOJ is also reportedly investigating the PGA Tour for potential antitrust violations against LIV Golf.
Trump National Washington D.C. will host LIV Golf later this month, May 26-28. LIV will then head to Trump National Bedminster, Aug. 11-13, and return to Trump National Doral, Oct. 20-22. The LIV Golf season ends in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, Nov. 3-5.