A key Republican donor for President Donald Trump and the RNC was caught trying to use a former diplomat in a campaign to influence Middle East policy, the Daily Beast reported Thursday.
The report outlined how Elliott Broidy used his connections and influence in the Trump administration to try and shift policies to align better with Middle Eastern leaders.
Former Ambassador Dennis Ross was paid $10,000 by Broidy to help in his efforts, but he had no idea that it was an influence campaign.
“He had approached me… to see if I would join a group of outside advisers who he had asked to consult and give him advice and think about how to approach what was going on in the region. So I said OK,” Ross said in an interview with The Beast.
Ross is a foreign-policy expert who has worked in three different administrations, most recently as a senior official on President Barack Obama's National Security Council.
He's since resigned from Broidy's group and returned the money when he read in the New York Times that Broidy was using his funds to try and make the administration more friendly to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Broidy is currently seeking "lucrative contracts" for his own company in the countries.
Trump just vetoed another bill Wednesday that would bar an arms sale to the Saudis.
Ross gave advice and kept Broidy abreast of the public writings on important topics he would need to know going into conversations with leaders. Broidy then would suggest ways to put greater pressure on his political opponents using Ross' help.
For example, in Jan. 2018, Ross told Broidy about an op-ed he placed in "The Hill" on Iran, Qatar and al Jazeera.
“That’s Great. Please also think of others we can ask to write op-eds,” Broidy replied to Ross. “I’m anxious to launch against in a serious way against al Jezeera [sic]... Thank you for your focus and attention to these important matters.”
Ross' piece was published on "The Hill" two days later.
“Saudi Arabia is engaged in a national transformation project in which we have a high stake in its success,” Ross wrote. “And whatever Saudi clerics may have done in the past, they are no longer spreading an intolerant, violent ideology that justifies terror against non-believers. One cannot say that about Qatar.”
Ross then said he could craft a list of other similar op-ed writers who could place pieces. But Ross said it didn't "feel right" so he didn't go through with it.
It's unclear the extent to which Broidy has been able to influence the Trump.