On Mother’s Day, Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels, posted a cryptic tweet with several images of Trump Tower on December 12, 2016. The photos featured Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who Avenatti is suing on Daniels’ behalf, Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser and several men who are more difficult to identify.
About six hours later, Avenatti revealed the identity of one of the other men in the picture. According to Avenatti, it’s Ahmed al-Rumaihi, a former Qatari diplomat who now heads up the nation’s massive investment fund.
Why was Ahmed Al-Rumaihi meeting with Michael Cohen and Michael Flynn in December 2016 and why did Mr. Al-Rumaihi later brag about bribing administration officials according to a sworn declaration filed in court?
It has not been conclusively proven that the bald man in the elevator is Al-Rumaihi, but it looks like him.
This is where the story gets very weird.
Al-Rumaihi was one of several foreign investors in the BIG3 basketball league, a new 3-on-3 professional league started by rapper Ice Cube and his business partner Jeff Kwatinetz. The relationship between Al-Rumaihi, Ice Cube and Kwatinetz did not go well.
Ice Cube and Kwatinetz claim that Al-Rumaihi and the other investors did not pay them millions they were promised. In April, they sued Al-Rumaihi and others for $1.2 billion in damages.
In a declaration filed this month in related litigation, Kwatinetz claims Al-Rumaihi and others were using their investment in the league to try to gain influence over Steve Bannon, a former senior adviser to Trump who is reportedly close to Kwatinetz. According to Kwatinetz, this was part of a larger effort by Al-Rumaihi to act as an agent of Qatari intelligence.
Kwatinetz claims that Al-Rumaihi invited him on a hike in January 2018 and said that he had a message to convey from the government of Qatari government to Steve Bannon. Al-Rumaihi said that the Qatari government would underwrite all of Bannon’s political activity in return for his support on issues of importance to the country. Bannon had recently lost support from his main financial backer, Rebekah Mercer.
Kwatinetz says he told Al-Rumaihi such an offer was inappropriate. Al-Rumaihi allegedly responded by calling Kwatinetz naive and bragging that former Trump adviser Michael Flynn had no problem taking his money.
Sports Trinity, the vehicle that Al-Rumnihi used to make his investment, disputes these allegations.
Simply put, the statements in Mr. Kwatinetz’s declaration are pure Hollywood fiction. Mr. Kwatinetz is engaging in a xenophobic PR smear campaign against Sport Trinity, the largest investor in BIG3 basketball, to cover up his own mismanagement and erratic behavior with respect to the league. Mr. Kwatinetz’s commercial dispute with Sport Trinity is meritless.
The presence of Al-Rumaihi in Trump Tower on December 12, 2016 lends more credence to Kwatinetz claim. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is currently cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation. By including photos showing Michael Cohen accompanied by Al-Rumaihi, Avenatti is suggesting that Cohen might also be involved.
Qatar recently bought a $6.5 million apartment in Trump World Tower in New York City.
Last week, Avenatti disclosed that shortly after the election, Michael Cohen had been paid millions by several large corporate entities, including $500,000 from a company with ties to a Russian oligarch. The bulk of Avenatti’s report was quickly confirmed by news organizations and the companies themselves.