An appointee of President Donald Trump has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars this year alone working on behalf of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Center for Public Integrity reports that Richard Hohlt, whom Trump appointed to his Commission on White House Fellowships, has made $430,000 since January for providing the Saudi government with “advice on legislative and public affairs strategies.”
In an interview with the Center for Public Integrity, Hohlt insisted that he had never used his job as a White House Fellowships commissioner to try to influence Trump on Saudi Arabia’s behalf.
“That is not my role,” he said. “I guess I’m an old-fashioned lobbyist… I know how to separate lobbying and not lobbying.”
Instead, Hohlt claims that he has been paid to give the Saudis advice about how the American legislative process works — and he admits that he did directly contact members of Congress to talk with them about a Saudi arms deal this past spring.
Trump during the campaign trail regularly attacked the role that lobbyists play in the United States government, and he vowed last fall to enact a “lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.”