Donald Trump’s former business ventures continue to come back to haunt him. There’s the Trump University fraud lawsuit that the presidential candidate is currently embroiled in, and now there’s apparently a bromance of deals he tried to make with Libya’s former leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi. Trump, of course, conveniently ignored the dictator’s suspected involvement in various terrorist attacks while trying to woo him. This should raise some eyebrows, given Trump’s outspokenness on “Islamic terrorists.”
An in-depth BuzzFeed News report has examined Trump’s flip-flopping on U.S. policy towards Libya. In 2011, he supported U.S intervention in the country during a revolution there, but most recently called it a “total mistake.” Worse though is that Trump tried to make investment partnerships with Qaddafi, and even allowed the dictator to pitch his tent at his New York estate during a United Nations meeting.
This is despite the fact that Qaddafi was involved in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing that killed 189 Americans over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Starting around 2008 and 2009, Trump courted the Libyan ambassador to the U.S., Ali Aujali, by inviting him to golf with him in Florida in order to get access to the Libyan Investment Authority, and the oil profits it regularly spent. In 2009, he rented his estate in Bedford, New York to Qaddafi so that the leader could erect a multi-acre tent to sleep in while he visited the UN. The deal was made with the help of Brown Lloyd James, a public relations firm hired to rehabilitate Qaddafi’s image. Twenty Libyans — including Qaddafi’s son — stayed at the estate in preparation for the dictator’s arrival, even bringing a lamb to sacrifice in his honor. But after media organizations took pictures of the tent, and posted them under headlines skewering Trump’s cozy relationship with a sponsor of terrorism, the city of Bedford shut the tent down.
Even then, Trump tried to get a meeting with Qaddafi, and then tried to get him to pay $50,000 extra for the tent ordeal, as this colorful email shows:
“Had a rough talk with trump org and said it was an insult to shake us down for 50k more and ask for a meeting,” another Brown Lloyd James employee wrote in an email obtained by BuzzFeed News. “The 150k for a few weeks rent is more than enough s ecurity [sic], go f**k self, etc. She says she’s talking to trump and will get back to me or have him call.”
By 2011, as revolution brewed in Libya, Trump was joining calls for U.S. intervention. He spun the tent controversy as him “screwing” Qaddafi out of a lot of money. On a 2016 episode of Face the Nation, Trump bragged about this again. So maybe there’s no hypocrisy to see here. Maybe Trump wanted to screw Libya further by making investment deals with the country and then reneging on them or some other endgame. Or a less charitable person might think that he didn’t care about Muammar al-Qaddafi’s investment in terrorism at the time, at least not more than the bottom line.