US President Donald Trump (L) gestures with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon his arrival at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, near Tokyo, Japan, 05 November 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FRANK ROBICHON/POOL)
WASHINGTON – Billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has publicly lobbied Donald Trump to bend toward his policy interests, scoring a major victory last year in helping to convince the American president to relocate the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But a report published on Wednesday reveals that he privately sought Trump’s help regarding his business interests as well.
According to a ProPublica investigation, Trump directly asked Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to consider Adelson’s proposal to open a casino in his country – long a dream of the businessman, who sees the wealthy nation as an exceptional, untapped market.
The report documented Abe’s sudden support in December 2016 for a controversial law allowing licenses for regulated casinos, a foreign concept in Japan, just weeks after his first meeting with the president-elect in Trump Tower in New York. Adelson secured a Trump Tower meeting for his potential business partner on a Japanese casino and resort during the transition period within days of Abe’s visit.
In February, just two months after the long-stalled bill passed the Japanese Diet, Adelson, Trump and Abe were all in Washington at the same time, meeting one another separately over lunches and dinners.
It was during those February meetings, after the two leaders departed Washington for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat, when the president told Abe about Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands and its interest in Japan, according to the ProPublica report, which cites Japanese media as well as independent sources. The president allegedly raised the matter on the same weekend that North Korea launched intercontinental ballistic missiles over Japan into the Pacific Ocean.
Adelson traveled to Japan one week later.
The detailed report notes that Adelson became Trump’s largest donor in the 2016 election cycle after initially questioning his fitness for office. The two were competitors in the casino world before Trump entered politics.
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With properties in Singapore and Macau, Adelson has also expressed to confidants awareness of his business vulnerabilities; closely tethered to Trump, China
may see his businesses as easy targets in its escalating trade war with the White House.
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