D.C. federal prosecutors charged high-flying GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy on Thursday over a wide-ranging foreign lobbying scheme, alleging that the 2016 Trump campaign fundraiser conspired to illegally lobby the U.S. government on behalf of a staggering array of foreign interests.
Broidy allegedly lobbied the Justice Department to drop its investigation of a massive Malaysian corruption scheme that involved bankers at Goldman Sachs, and also pushed the Trump administration to extradite an exiled Chinese billionaire living in Manhattan who had become bothersome to Beijing.
Prosecutors typically charge people via a criminal information when the defendant is expected to plead guilty. The Washington Post reported last month that Broidy was in plea talks. Though the case was brought in D.C., it is being prosecuted by the Public Integrity Section at the DOJ’s main office.
The charging document says that Broidy had direct access to President Trump, alleging that he used his high-level contacts “to orchestrate back-channel, unregistered campaigns to lobby the Administration and DOJ.”
Broidy served as a deputy finance chairman at the RNC starting in April 2017, months after President Trump’s victory and shortly after President Trump inaugural, for which the the GOP financier was a vice chair.
Prosecutors say that Broidy quickly leveraged that access for what they describe as a series of secret foreign lobbying campaigns. In March 2017, the document reads, Broidy agreed to take an $8 million retainer to lobby the DOJ to bring the 1MDB probe to an end.
By April, Broidy allegedly took another $1 million payment from his client in exchange for “traveling to Bangkok.” At a May meeting in the Thai capital with the client, prosecutors say, Broidy also discussed a potential lobbying campaign to have exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui deported from the U.S.
Broidy allegedly enlisted a coterie of Trumpworld figures to help in his efforts.
That, prosecutors say, included Rick Gates, who received “$25,000 per month for advice and guidance with respect to navigating the administration.”
Much of the initial phases of Broidy’s lobbying campaign focused on building a personal relationship between President Trump and the Malaysian prime minister. At one point in July 2017, prosecutors say, “Broidy emailed a high-level official from the National Security Council in an attempt to arrange a golf game” between the two leaders.
The golf outing never took place. But, prosecutors say, Broidy did manage to secure a meeting with President Trump in October 2017, during which he did not bring up anything to do with the 1MDB investigation, but after which he allegedly lied to his associates that he had.
As all of this was happening, prosecutors say, Broidy was cultivating another lucrative line of business: working for a Chinese minister to have Guo deported.
Broidy allegedly went to mainland China in May 2017 to meet with the high-ranking Chinese government official, before agreeing to help the minister set up contacts in D.C. with American government officials and to push for Guo’s extradition.
Former Trump campaign manager Stephen K. Bannon was arrested in August on Guo’s yacht on completely unrelated charges. Since 2017, Guo has been waging a public media campaign against the Chinese government, claiming to have evidence of corruption in its highest ranks and releasing documents to that end on his social media accounts.
The charging document suggests that Broidy tried to enlist GOP megadonor and casino magnate Steve Wynn into his campaign to have Guo extradited.
Guo’s U.S. visa was up for renewal between June and July 2017. Prosecutors say that Broidy attempted to use this as an opportunity to have the visa denied, and allegedly told Wynn’s spouse that Guo “must also be placed on the DHS no fly list…This order would need to come from the very top as [Guo] is well connected with former FBI who are on his private security detail.”
Broidy allegedly added in the message that Chinese President Xi Jinping had told President Trump during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago that he wanted Guo returned.
It’s not clear whether Broidy will cooperate with prosecutors pursuant to any plea agreement, or whether the investigation remains ongoing.
Read the criminal information here: