UAE 'made changes' to Trump's 2016 'America First' speech

Spell-sheikhing: UAE 'made changes' to Trump's 2016 'America First' energy speech
2 min read
30 July, 2019
The 'America First' speech was leaked by one of Trump's closest advisers at the request for a pre-speech review by senior UAE officials two weeks before its scheduled delivery.
A draft of the 2016 speech was leaked by one of Trump's closest advisers [AFP]
A major energy speech delivered by Donald Trump prior to his election as US president was seen and edited by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, documents obtained by federal investigators revealed on Monday.

A draft of the 2016 speech, known as the "America First" speech, was leaked by one of Trump's closest advisers at the request for a pre-speech review by senior UAE officials two weeks before its scheduled delivery.

The draft speech was given to Thomas Barrack, an investment tycoon with extensive contacts in the Middle East, who passed it onto a business associate from the UAE, who later informed Barrack that he had sent the remarks to UAE and Saudi government officials. 

Barrack then asked Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, to add pro-Gulf language requested by the UAE officials to the speech.

"This is the most likely final version of the speech. It has the language you want," said an email sent to Barrack on the day of the speech, according to a report by House Oversight Chairman and Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings.

Trump delivered the speech in North Dakota, promising an "America First" energy plan while also vowing to "work with our Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti-terrorism strategy."

Investigators noted that they did not have evidence indicating "whether Trump was aware that drafts of his speech were circulated to foreign officials in the Middle East or that feedback had been provided through Mr. Barrack and Mr. Manafort."

"The Trump administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policymaking from corporate and foreign interests," the report concluded.

Cummings led the investigation into back channel business dealings between certain Trump aides and Middle Eastern countries.

"The American people deserve to know the facts about whether the White House is willing to place the potential profits of the President's personal friends above the national security of the American people and the universal objective of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons," Cummings said in a statement.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab