Elliott Broidy says he got millions to illegally lobby Trump administration
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Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who admitted to illegally lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of foreign nationals, publicly described his actions Tuesday for the first time, testifying in court about the efforts. his failed efforts to quash a federal investigation of a Malaysian financier and prompt US officials to extradite a wealthy Chinese dissident living in New York whom Beijing had branded a criminal.
Although he could have earned as much as $75 million if his efforts were successful, he told a federal jury, he ended up with much less: an $8 million retainer and a $1 million “appearance fee” dollars to travel to Thailand for a secret meeting.
Broidy, who pleaded guilty in 2020 to conspiracy to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act and was later pardoned by President Donald Trump, is cooperating with the Justice Department in criminal cases involving Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho and associates his in the United States. Authorities say Low and others benefited from the theft of $4.5 billion from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Low, 41, is a fugitive while one of his accomplices, Prakazrel “Pras” Michél, a former member of the Grammy-winning 1990s hip-hop trio the Fugees, is on trial in District Court of the US in Washington, accused of money. laundering and other federal crimes related to his dealings with the missing Malaysian businessman. Michél, 50, has denied any wrongdoing.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Broidy, then a Los Angeles-based investor, helped rally major donors to support Trump’s campaign. After Trump took office in 2017, Broidy was appointed vice chairman of finance for the Republican National Committee.
Testifying for the prosecution on Tuesday at Michel’s trial, he told the jury of a labyrinthine scheme, hatched in 2017, in which he wanted to collect up to $75 million from Low in exchange for the illegal use of his influence in the Trump administration to ease Low’s legal woes. . Part of the elaborate plan — which Broidy said was brokered by Michél — involved urging officials to return the dissident Chinese national to Beijing. But the efforts failed.
Broidy expressed no apparent regret for the witness’s stance, as he described the illegal lobbying in mostly clinical terms. Under questioning by a prosecutor, he repeatedly used phrases such as “business opportunity” and “terms of the deal.” As for helping Low, he referred to leveraging “my relationships in the administration with the president and others who might be relevant.”
Authorities have said Low was a leader of the small circle of kleptocrats in Kuala Lumpur who looted the Malaysian fund known as 1MDB. In the United States, beginning in the late 2000s, he spent tens of millions of dollars on lavish parties and lavish gifts on many of the celebrities—actors, musicians, socialites—he cultivated as celebrities.
As for Michél, after the Fugees broke up in 1997 and his solo career as a rapper faded, he reinvented himself in the 2000s as a private equity investor, eventually becoming a business associate and close associate of Low’s, according to prosecutors .
In 2017, the FBI and Department of Justice were closing in on Low, conducting a criminal investigation into the 1MDB scandal and filing a major civil lawsuit against him to seize hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal assets. That’s when Low turned to Broid, who the prosecution described as a “fixer”.
Broidy testified that he, Michél and another business associate flew to Thailand in the spring of 2017 to secretly meet with Low. Broidy said he eventually agreed to lobby the Trump administration, seeking to cut the federal legal action, for a fee of either $50 million or $75 million, depending on how long it took to succeed.
He told the jury that he tried, through intermediaries, to get senior administration officials to believe that it would be harmful to US-Malaysian relations for the Justice Department to remain involved in the 1MDB case. He said he tried in vain to arrange for Trump to play a round of golf with then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak so Razak would tell Trump the 1MDB scandal was not important.
Razak was eventually jailed in Malaysia for his role in the embezzlement.
With his efforts failing, Broidy said, he met with Low again in 2017, in mainland China. He said the meeting involved a senior Chinese domestic security official.
Low seemed to think that the Chinese authorities could help him in some way with his legal problems, and because of this, Low wanted to please the Chinese. Broidy said Low and the security official asked him to use his influence in the Trump administration to secure the extradition of wealthy Chinese national Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of the Chinese government who was living in New York under a visa. temporary.
The security official described Guo as a criminal, Broidy said.
He said the official promised that in exchange for Guo’s deportation, China would release American prisoners in its custody and possibly enter into a new cooperation agreement with the United States on cybersecurity issues. Broidy said he conveyed this to various officials in Washington, including the White House, telling then-Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that Guo’s extradition would be “a tremendous step forward” in US-China relations.
But these efforts also failed.
Ultimately, even though Guo was not deported, Michél received “over $70 million” from Low, according to prosecutors. Guo has since been indicted by a federal grand jury in New York in an unrelated financial fraud case.
In April 2018, Broidy resigned from his position on the Republican National Committee after it was reported that he had paid a former Playboy model $1.6 million in exchange for her silence about a sexual affair. Then, as the FBI’s investigation of Low intensified, he was charged in 2020 with illegal lobbying and pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors.
The deal required him to cooperate with federal prosecutors. And he said he continues to do so, despite being pardoned by Trump. After the pardon, Broidy said, he signed a new deal with prosecutors, agreeing to maintain his cooperation in exchange for not being charged again with various crimes related to illegal lobbying.