Trump Invites Business Leaders (Including Robert Kraft) to Meet With Qatari Emir

WASHINGTON — As he welcomed Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani into town on Monday evening, President Trump ushered Qatar’s 39-year-old ruling emir into the Treasury’s Cash Room, a subtlety-free reinforcement of his eagerness to work with the one of the world’s wealthiest nations.

This “is a fitting tribute to the economic and security partnership between our two nations,” Mr. Trump said of the room, which used to house vaults filled with gold, silver and paper currency. He then pointed to his family members, friends and business associates in attendance.

“This is a who’s who of people in business,” Mr. Trump said, surveying a crowd that contained over 40 business leaders, before adding that working meetings with Tamim, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, would encompass issues “from defense to purchases and trade, and I know everything’s going to be very positive.”

To reinforce the United States’ close partnership with Qatar — a tiny, gas-powerful Middle Eastern country — the president stocked the guest list with administration-friendly business leaders and politicians. There were Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s eldest daughter and son-in-law, who also serve as his senior advisers. There was Dina Powell, an executive at Goldman Sachs who is a former senior Trump administration official. There was Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund. And seated next to her at Mr. Trump’s table was Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots.

Mr. Kraft, 78, is one of the National Football League’s most powerful owners, but his attendance still stood out. In February, he was caught in a sting operation at a spa called Orchids of Asia, a small storefront business in a strip mall in Jupiter, Fla., and was charged with soliciting prostitution. Since then, Mr. Kraft has struggled to find his footing in the rarefied worlds he used to inhabit.

But he has always found an ally in Mr. Trump, a close friend who has tried to invite Mr. Kraft into the White House fold before. Inviting the New England Patriots to the White House after the team won the Super Bowl — always a tense political process for this administration — Mr. Trump told aides in March that he wanted Mr. Kraft there. (The visit has not yet happened.) And the two have been seen dining together at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s club in Palm Beach, Fla.

The timing of Mr. Kraft’s Cash Room visit — hours after the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who used to run in the same social circles as Mr. Trump, was arrested on charges of sex trafficking — seemed lost on both host and attendees.

Instead, the president lavished praise on the emir, whom Mr. Trump said was another friend who knew him before he entered politics. Mr. Trump said the two would work together to “eradicate terrorism and its financing, wherever it may take root,” and strike some business deals along the way.

“Tamim, you’ve been a friend of mine for a long time,” Mr. Trump said, “before I did this presidential thing, and we feel very comfortable with each other.”

Mr. Trump added that the “investments that you make are very much appreciated.”

“And I know the planes you’re buying and all of the other things you’re investing in,” he said. “And I view it differently; I view it as jobs. Because for me, it’s jobs.”

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