Rachel Maddow Explores Trump's Shady Dealings with Azerbaijan's Corrupt Officials

An odd business deal might explain why President Trump appears so worried about a probe into his contacts.

Photo Credit: MSNBC / YouTube

On Monday night's Rachel Maddow show, the host explored an explosive story about the relationship between President Trump and Azerbaijan's corrupt officials.

Central to what appears to be one of the worst deals ever is a company called Bechtel.

"Before WikiLeaks got all inextricably bound up in our new national nightmare about Russia hacking our presidential election… back when WikiLeaks was instead just wholesale dumping U.S. State Department cables into the public domain, one of the things we learned was actually about a funny thing that happened to this giant company, Bechtel,” Maddow explained.

Azerbaijan was "doing a lot of building" due to oil wealth, but refused to work with Bechtel, citing its high rates. But then the country inexplicably chose a company charging far more. 

“Instead of costing $5 or $6 million per kilometer [for roads], they had the work done for $18 million per kilometer,” Maddow hammered. “Huh? Bechtel must have been like, say what now? We’re too expensive so you send us away so you can have the work done instead at more than triple our price? What?"

Maddow cited Adam Davidson’s New Yorker piece, published Monday, to explain the odd turn of events. 

"Trump played a passive role in the development of the property," Davidson concluded. "He was 'merely a licensor' who allowed his famous name to be used by a company headed by Ziya Mammadov’s son, Anar, a young entrepreneur. It’s not clear how much money Trump made from the licensing agreement, although in his limited public filings he has reported receiving $2.8 million."

According to Maddow, Davidson's New Yorker piece provides one of the “best explanations we have had yet about why the White House is so dramatically freaked out about the prospect that there might be an independent investigation into the president and his contacts.” 

Azerbaijan’s road contract “is [with] a company that is believed to be controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard... one of the world's major supporters financially, and otherwise, of international terrorist movements," she explained. 

The Trump family actually “abandoned this project” a month after Trump’s election, but “not before [Trump] received millions of dollars in that deal” with billionaire transport minister Ziya Mammadov.

“You are expected to do your due diligence,” she added. “Trump and his family were in business with the cartoon caricature of corruption,” Maddow said of Mammadov.


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Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.