While Donald Trump's critics warn America's next president could use the Oval Office to profit his family and friends, letters uncovered in the personal papers of a former vice president suggest the presidency has been used for personal profit in the past.
Vice President George H.W. Bush was just months away from being sworn in as president when he wrote a personal letter to the King of Saudi Arabia endorsing a business trip to the kingdom by former Vice President Spiro Agnew.
Lead Stories has exclusively obtained the Bush letter to King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud -- then the world's second wealthiest person -- which Agnew hand delivered to the king in August 1988. It is just one in a trove of historical documents obtained by collector Gregg Schneider in a purchase from Agnew's heirs. (See the full letter below.)
"I want to pass my warm greetings to you through former Vice President Spiro Agnew," Bush wrote. "His visit to the Kingdom is a wonderful opportunity for him to renew old friendships and to discuss regional political issues in these trying times."
Despite having been forced from office in a bribery and kickback scandal in 1973, Agnew remained in contact with Bush and even gave him political advice during the 1988 presidential race. (Lead Stories will soon publish another exclusive story detailing that relationship based on previously unseen documents.)
Along with the plug for Agnew's business trip, Bush used the disgraced vice president as the conduit for a message to the Saudi king about the "common interests" of the United States and Saudi Arabia. (Lead Stories will also publish a story about Agnew's strong anti-Israel beliefs and how he used his anti-Zionist positions for profit in the middle east.)
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Read the full Bush letter below
"My 1986 trip to Saudi Arabia left lasting impressions on me about Saudi Arabia's people, its leadership, and its strategic importance," Bush wrote. "I know America and Saudi Arabia share many common interests in the region and I believe we need to walk into the future together."
"Here's why. I see hopeful, yet trying, times ahead. Iran's acceptance of UN Resolution 598 is a hopeful sign for the future, but together we must be ever vigilant and prepared. I assure you the US will continue a strong naval presence in the region so long as a threat persists to the US, Saudi Arabia and our friends.
UN Resolution 598 called for a ceasefire between Iran and Iraq after several years of war. It brought a brief period of peace in the region that ended when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, leading to the U.S-led coalition's defeat of Iraq's army and liberation of Kuwait. Saudi Arabia was President Bush's key ally in the war.
The Bush letter delivered by Agnew also made it clear that the U.S. wanted it's close relationship to Saudi Arabia to be "special" and transcend other middle eastern issues.
"I firmly believe that the Gulf region has its own dynamics, its own context, its own set of interests and issues, and is largely separated from other Middle Eastern concerns. I would like to work closely with you to further our shared goals in the region. I want a solid and very special US-Saudi Arabian relationship, and I would like that relationship to be built upon our shared statesmanship, personal friendship, and trust.
"I look forward to our continued close relations and pursuing our mutual goal of peace and friendship - together.
Agnew, apparently knowing the historic significance of the letter, kept the original for himself. It remained a secret until the current owner shared it and a treasure trove of Agnew's personal papers with Lead Stories.
Read the full letter