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Donald Trump welcomes Najib Razak to the White House during the former Malaysian PM’s 2017 visit to Washington. Photo: Bloomberg

Najib Razak splurged US$260,000 at Trump’s Washington hotel while Malaysian PM: US Congress report

  • The US House Oversight Committee said Najib was among officials from six countries, including China, ‘seeking to influence American foreign policy’
  • It said he spent US$10,000 per night on the hotel’s presidential suite, more than US$8,000 for in-room lunches and US$1,500 on a personal trainer
Then-Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak and his entourage spent a total of US$259,724 at the Washington hotel owned by former president Donald Trump in 2017, according to a congressional committee report.
Malaysia was among six countries – the others being China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, and the United Arab Emirates – that spent more than US$750,000 at the Trump International Hotel while trying to influence the ex-president’s administration in 2017 and 2018, said the report by the House Oversight Committee, which obtained documents from Mazars USA, Trump’s former accounting firm.

Najib’s September 2017 stay in the hotel’s presidential suite cost US$10,000 per night, the committee said, with him personally spending US$44,562 over three days, including more than US$8,000 for in-room lunches and another US$1,500 on a personal trainer.

The Trump International Hotel pictured in March last year. It was sold to an investor group in May 2022 for a reported US$375 million. Photo: AP
At the time, Najib and members of his family were under investigation by the US Department of Justice for looting Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, the committee said. Najib was jailed for 12 years in August on corruption charges.

The documents released on Monday “sharply call into question the extent to which President Trump was guided by his personal financial interest while in office rather than the best interests of the American people,” said Representative Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York who chairs the committee.

She added that the documents reveal that during the time the officials stayed at the Trump-owned hotel, “they were seeking to influence American foreign policy”.

Malaysia’s corrupt ex-PM Najib Razak asks for royal pardon to get out of jail

The House committee said that officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE also spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the Trump Hotel in 2017 and 2018, while the governments of Türkiye and China spent lesser amounts.

According to the documents, China’s embassy spent nearly US$20,000 at the hotel two months before a 2017 meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In a statement to The New York Times, Trump’s son Eric Trump said profit earned on the hotel stays was returned to the federal government through an annual payment to the Treasury Department.

Eric Trump (right) watches his father, former president Donald Trump, play golf last month. Photo: Jasen Vinlove-USA Today Sports

“As a company, we went to tremendous lengths to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest,” Eric Trump said. “Not due to any legal requirement, but because of the respect we have towards the office of the presidency.”

The House committee previously disclosed that the Trump hotel had taken in more than US$3.75 million from foreign governments while Trump was president.

The heavy foreign government spending at Trump’s hotel has been reported before but details and the timing of this snapshot of payments are new. Two days after a March 2018 stay by the Saudis, the committee noted, then-president Trump approved US$1.3 billion in arms sales to the country.

The Trump Organization sold the Trump International Hotel in Washington to an investor group in May 2022 for a reported US$375 million.

Trial begins of Trump’s family business on fraud and tax evasion charges

In January last year, the Supreme Court shut down lawsuits claiming that Trump violated constitutional bars against a president accepting income from foreign sources, saying the cases were moot since Trump had left the White House.

These cases stemmed from the so-called emoluments clause of the US Constitution, which prohibits public officials from receiving gifts, payments or titles from foreign states without permission from Congress.

Trump entrusted the management of his real estate empire to his sons after taking office in 2017, although he held onto his shares in the Trump Organization, which brought in US$435 million in revenue in 2018.

Additional reporting by Associated Press