The Republican-led House Oversight Committee has spent most of the past five months hard at work trying to link “the Biden family” (read: relatives of President Biden but not Biden himself) to millions of dollars proffered by foreign business interests before Biden became president. With the 2024 presidential campaign already at the top of the political conversation, the idea that some revelation might prove to be politically damaging to the incumbent is obviously a central motivation.
It is, therefore, safe to assume that the committee’s interest would be piqued if it learned that the Democratic front-runner for his party’s nomination was actively receiving unspecified amounts of money from a foreign business — one linked closely to a foreign leader. A foreign leader, mind you, who was implicated by U.S. intelligence in the murder of a journalist who wrote for a U.S. newspaper.
The Oversight Committee would no doubt launch hearings if it heard that the Democratic front-runner was actively promoting that foreign business, much less a shared business venture between the candidate and the foreign entity.
But all of that is true of Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, so no hearings should be expected.
This weekend, the golf course that Trump owns in Virginia — his regular destination for rounds of golf while he was president — is hosting a tournament organized by LIV Golf. LIV Golf, essentially a series of tournaments involving a well-paid coterie of golfers, is primarily funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Mohammed, you will recall, was identified by U.S. intelligence officials as having approved the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
The extent to which LIV is primarily an offshoot of the Saudi government is subject to some debate. In February, a federal judge considering an antitrust lawsuit filed by LIV against the PGA suggested that LIV was dependent on the PIF.
“It is plain that PIF is not a mere investor in LIV,” U.S. District Judge Susan van Keulen wrote — “it is the moving force behind the founding, funding, oversight and operation of LIV.”
What’s more, as the New York Times has reported, LIV probably isn’t a particularly good investment, something that the PIF would ostensibly seek in its efforts.
What the LIV very much is, however, is popular with Donald Trump.
The organization began hosting events last year. The third was hosted at Trump’s club in New Jersey, where he participated in a pro-am round to help promote it. He did so despite outcry from the families of people killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (“I don’t know much about the 9/11 families,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal.)
Last year’s LIV season culminated in an event hosted at Trump’s course in Miami. This season, Trump properties will host three LIV events. In other words, five of LIV’s 22 events in 2022 and 2023 will be held at venues in the former president’s business portfolio.
How much is that worth to his company and to himself? Who knows. It’s important to recognize, though, that cash is the central value proposition LIV offers, poaching PGA players primarily through massive contracts and big purses.
Trump had his own reasons to be frustrated with golf’s powers-that-be; they were disapproving of his efforts to, you know, overturn the 2020 presidential election. But it’s hard to imagine that LIV isn’t paying millions of dollars to use Trump’s facilities, as is generally how such deals go down, plus income from souvenirs and other spending.
The former president — and, of course, Republican 2024 front-runner — also keeps giving LIV additional advertising. On Truth Social, he has disparaged the PGA and encouraged his millions of followers to tune in to LIV coverage. (This has been a particular weak spot for the organization.) More recently, he has plugged the upcoming tournament in Virginia, offering his followers the chance to buy tickets.
LIV is not the only connection between Saudi Arabia and what we might call the “Trump family” — including son-in-law Jared Kushner. The PIF invested $2 billion in a fund run by Kushner soon after Trump left the White House. The LIV relationship, though, is reportedly the focus of a subpoena from special counsel Jack Smith.
One of Trump’s central political assets is that he rapidly develops immunity to specific criticisms. He will spark outcry but wave it away, leaving his critics to continue to draw attention to his behavior for a public already aware of it. So the idea that Trump has a vague, probably lucrative relationship with a foreign leader even as he seeks a second term as president just blends into the background noise.
If only there were an institution within the federal government interested in publicly policing sketchy relationships between presidential candidates and foreign entities! Alas, there doesn’t appear to be.