When Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia came to the United States in 2017, it was a nervous time for the White House, as he’s under investigation by American prosecutors claiming Razak embezzled $3.5 billion from a state investment fund. Razak did not get an Oval Office photo with President Trump, as is custom when a head of state visits the U.S.
However, Republican mega donor Elliot Broidy was more concerned about his personal business interests, as Razak oversaw the awarding of a contract which could have meant millions for him personally and his private defense-contracting business. Broidy wanted to make sure he got the contract from Razak, so he pushed the White House and President Trump to play a round of golf with Razak while he was here.
Broidy denies the claims, including that he explored other ways to put pressure on Razak.
“I have done work in Malaysia over many years and know Prime Minister Najib Razak well,” Mr. Broidy wrote in an email to the White House chief of staff John Kelly in a message dated Aug. 31, 2017, according to the New York Times.
Broidy appealed personally to Trump in June 2017 to play golf with Razak, and Broidy told Kelly in his message Trump had agreed to the round of golf, which was purportedly confirmed by Reince Priebus, the prior chief of staff before Kelly took the job. The golf round did not appear on the prime minister’s schedule. Kelly reportedly did not reply to the message.
Trump has played golf with heads of state before, including three times with Japanese premier Shinzo Abe. However, playing golf with Razak would have opened him up to criticism he was doing business with potential criminals. Razak is under investigation in the Uinted States and Malaysia on suspicion of embezzling from a Malaysian investment fund, the 1Malaysia Development Berhad. The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit seeking to seize $540 million in American assets purchased with money taken from the fund.
The round of golf didn’t happen, and Broidy’s discussions over the defense contract with Malaysia did not advance past the preliminary stages.