Leaked emails obtained by the BBC reveal the United Arab Emirates lobbied President Donald Trump to fire U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for criticizing the blockade of Qatar by Middle East countries.
The emails were sent by Elliott Broidy, who is the owner of a private security company with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of contracts with UAE, according to The New York Times. The 60-year-old man is also a national deputy finance chairman for the Republican National Committee and raised money for Trump’s campaign.
When the president and the fundraiser met in October 2017, Broidy reportedly pushed Trump to fire Tillerson.
In his leaked emails, he called the U.S.’ top diplomat “weak,” a “tower of Jello” and someone who “needs to be slammed.”
According to the memo Broidy prepared for the October meeting, the fundraiser urged Trump to support U.S. allies, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and suggested Trump not meddle in the row with Qatar.
Last summer, hackers briefly took control of Qatar’s official news agency website and posted a fake account of a speech by the emir, which was meant to rile up the Arab states and the United States. The hackers quoted the emir as saying Trump’s presidency may not last, suggested friendship with Iran and backed Hamas in Palestine. He also confirmed his own “good” relations with Israel.
The emir publicly denied the false allegations, yet Saudi and Emirati news networks continuously repeated the false news. Days later, they boycotted Qatar.
In his emails, Bordiy called Qatar “a television station with a country” — referring to Al Jazeera — and said it was doing “nothing positive.” He also boasted about an anti-terrorism force being set up by UAE that his company was involved in and suggested Trump sit down with UAE’s top military commander and crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Tillerson later called for the blockade to be rolled back, contrary to what Trump said. During that time, Broidy advised Trump to get rid of his secretary of the state who was “performing poorly and should be fired at a politically convenient time.”
Broidy is now saying Qatar hacked his emails. He also said some of the emails may be altered, though did not specify which ones or how.
Qatar has denied doing any of these things.
"Qatar would like to state unequivocally that it has not engaged in or committed any of the alleged accusations made falsely by Mr. Broidy, nor has it engaged or paid anyone to do so,” said its communications office. "We believe that Mr. Broidy's baseless accusations are simply a diversionary tactic to distract attention from the serious allegations against himself and his client, the government of the United Arab Emirates.
Qatar also suggested Broidy might have south to profit himself by selling his influence with Trump to the UAE government.
Broidy’s emails were addressed to George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman who works as an adviser for Abu Dhabi’s crown prince.
Both Broidy and Nader are persons of interest in FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether the Trump campaign accepted illegal Emirati campaign funds through Nader.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: Reuters/Mohamed Azakir