BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
Last week, I published part 1 of my article describing the efforts of a Black American group’s plans to lobby for Trump’s reelection with the financial support of wealthy Turkish businessmen who would invest billions of dollars in the United States. One of these businessmen was Ali Akat.
During his visit to the U.S., Akat met with XStrategies CEO Alexander Bruesewitz at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, discussing Turkey’s intent to invest $12 billion in the U.S. and create 25,000 jobs. Akat was photographed at the U.S. Capitol with three Republican congressmen, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Pete Sessions of Texas and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. He also met with billionaire Tom Barrack and Lara Trump at the Trump International Hotel.
Salon.com reported that Akat told the Turkish press that “Scott took him to Republican National Committee headquarters, where he was photographed giving an address, and the White House. Here is a rough translation of the relevant passage: ‘During the meetings with Darrell Scott, he supported the project warmly. He forwarded our project to Donald J. Trump, his colleagues and family. He took me to the Republican headquarters first. I had the opportunity to explain the project there, and it was liked by everyone. Then he took me to the White House, based on the seriousness of the matter. We had contacts in the White House. We had meetings with Donald J. Trump’s special assistants and assistants Andrew Giuliani, Clayon T. Henson, Ronny L. Jackson, Jennifer S. Korn and Alexandra E. Veletsis.’”
“The Turkish article included a photograph of Akat and Darrell Scott reviewing a thick binder together in a conference room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House, according to people familiar with the building. The building hosts most of the White House staff,” according to Salon.com.
“Akat told a Turkish-American [news] outlet that 15 Turkish companies were ready to push ahead with business in the U.S. Around this time, Darrell Scott publicized his trips aboard Air Force One and White House visits in his URC capacity, as he and URC[Urban Revitalization Coalition] co-chair Kareem Lanier worked directly with Trump and advisers including Jared Kushner (whom Scott calls ‘J-Rock’ ) on what would become the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, effected in an executive order that December. Scott’s visits included his evening watching the midterm election returns with Trump in the White House,” Salon.com reported. “The day before Scott and Trump watched the election, Trump exempted Turkey from energy sanctions that his administration had slapped on Iran in November. This was sharply criticized by some U.S. officials, who saw the move as capitulation to Erdogan’s strong-arm tactics — especially as negotiations related to Halkbank, a Turkish financial institution that is now under federal investigation for evading Iranian sanctions.”
Salon.com reported: “On the same day Trump gave Turkey a pass on sanctions, Ferhan Ademhan — a wealthy Turkish industrialist and investor who also has ties to Akat, as well as to [Turksih writer Rabia] Kazan and, through her, Trump campaign surrogate and Pence ally Martha Boneta — posted on Facebook: ‘America has released 8 countries [from the sanctions] it applied to Iran. Our country has been released as well. We have been rid of this burden on behalf of our country.’ A few weeks later, Akat was back at the president’s Washington hotel, posting photos of Trump and Giuliani as well as gifts from the White House.”
“On Dec. 12, Trump signed an executive order establishing the White House Urban Revitalization and Opportunity Council. The order appends ‘opportunity zone’ development to nearly every paragraph. Darrell Scott was present at the signing, and Trump singled him out for praise. That day, the National Diversity Council — a group founded by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, where Scott and Lanier served as senior officials and Kazan sat on the advisory board — posted the news on Twitter, pointing out the irony that Cohen had been sentenced to prison the same day: ‘URGENT President Trump IMPORTANT Speech Signs Exec Order amid Cohen Sentenced 3 Years in Prison,’
A few weeks after Cohen’s offices and homes were raided by the FBI, confiscating phones and computers, National Diversity Council (NDC) director Bruce Levell, who Kazan says had shaken her down for $1,000, expressed concern to Kazan in a text message, obtained by Salon: “Trust me. Don’t talk to anybody about NDCTrump. Delete. Cohen under fire. Thanks.”
“On Dec. 23, after the Opportunity and Revitalization Council had been officially created, Trump tweeted about ‘discussing heavily expanded Trade’ with Erdogan…. Two days later, the Daily Sabah — which is owned by Erdogan’s son-in-law — published another interview with Akat, indicating that the trade talks had advanced. He pegged the prospective economic package at $1 billion. The article, published on Christmas Day, was headlined, ‘Turkish-American bilateral trade expected to soar next year,’” according to Salon.com. “The following month Trump tweeted about trade policy with Turkey again…: ‘Also spoke about economic development between the U.S. & Turkey — great potential to substantially expand!’”
Salon.com concluded that “This effort — backed by Scott and Lanier at the URC, among others — would have entailed changes in U.S. trade policy to give Turkish manufacturing companies priorities in the United States, seemingly contradicting Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda.”
According to experts from “CREW [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics], the Campaign Legal Center and OpenSecrets told Salon that on its face this initiative would raise concerns about possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires Americans who lobby on behalf of foreign interests to register with the government.”
Salon.com reported that “The URC might also face tax law liabilities. At one point the group was a tax-exempt 501c (3) nonprofit, which can accept donations, including from foreign nationals, without having to disclose sources. But because the URC apparently never filed a tax return, the IRS automatically revoked its tax-exempt status this May.”
This is a bizarre tale of a couple of individuals doing the bidding of the Trump campaign to make the President look good in front of Black Americans, while claiming to attract investments from Turkish sources to poor Black community areas. Their efforts need to be further investigated by the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service.