Here’s two names you probably didn’t expect to see sharing a headline: Hip-hop legend Ice Cube and former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. According to a bizarre new story from The Daily Mail, a $1.2 billion lawsuit filed by Cube and his business partner, Jeff Kwatinetz, alleges that the Qatari government sought to bribe Bannon via the duo after investing in Ice Cube’s basketball league, BIG3. Kwatinetz, court documents reveal, calls Bannon a former colleague and personal friend.
The story goes something like this: Last year, Ahmed al Rumaihi, a member of the Qatari royal family, agreed to invest $20.5 million in BIG3, but ended up dodging calls after ponying up only $7.5 million. When Cube and Kwatinetz tried to get the rest of the money, al Rumaihi began “persistently inquir[ing] about wanting to meet with Mr. Bannon,” who was, at the time, still Trump’s chief strategist. His efforts appeared to intensify after Bannon left both the White House and, later, the alt-right news site Breitbart, the latter of which found him losing the financial backing of hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer.
In the lawsuit, Kwatinetz claims that al Rumaihi asked him to set up a meeting with Bannon so that the Qatari could “convey a message from the Qatari Government to Steve Bannon.”
He continues, “Mr. Al-Rumaihi requested I set up a meeting between him, the Qatari government, and Steven Bannon, and to tell Steve Bannon that Qatar would underwrite all of his political efforts in return for his support.”
When Kwatinetz refused to play ball, al Rumaihi allegedly “laughed and then stated to me that I shouldn’t be naive, that so many Washington politicians take our money.” al Rumaihi then stated, “Do you think [Michael] Flynn turned down our money?” Flynn, if you recall, was Trump’s National Security Advisor before being fired, pleading guilty to lying to the FBI, and making a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
The $1.2 billion lawsuit was filed last month and the Qatari investors are counter-suing claiming libel and demanding the case be moved to a federal court.
2018 is weird.