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Trump hits the town! Ex-president and wife Melania join stars at controversial Saudi LIV golf gala

Donald Trump brushed off criticism Wednesday night for hosting the Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament and partying with the players and other sports stars in Manhattan on the eve of the event.

Accompanied by his wife Melania, Trump was seen with his frequent golf partner Dustin Johnson, 38 – who he will play in pro-am on Thursday. Johnson was accompanied by his actress wife Paulina Gretzky.

Also in attendance were Caitlyn Jenner, with whom Trump shook hands, and rapper Nelly, who performed onstage.

The latest in the LIV Golf Invitational Series will be held July 29-31 at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course with 12 teams and 48 golfers competing for a $4 million top prize.

The fledgling LIV tour has managed to swindle some big names and provide more pay for those frustrated by the PGA’s operations, including Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler.

Trump and his wife Melania are seen Wednesday night at the welcome party in Manhattan

Trump and his wife Melania are seen Wednesday night at the welcome party in Manhattan

Donald Trump speaks with golfer Dustin Johnson at a party in Manhattan Wednesday night to celebrate the tournament

Donald Trump speaks with golfer Dustin Johnson at a party in Manhattan Wednesday night to celebrate the tournament

Trump talks to Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, at the launch party on Wednesday

Trump talks to Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, at the launch party on Wednesday

Caitlyn Jenner, herself an avid golfer, shakes hands with the former president on Wednesday night

Caitlyn Jenner, herself an avid golfer, shakes hands with the former president on Wednesday night

Earlier this year, the PGA decided to ban players from participating in LIV events, and this month the Justice Department opened an investigation into the PGA for anti-competitive behavior.

The tour, supported by Saudi Arabia, has angered relatives of 9/11 victims, who are shocked at the former president’s open support for the country from which most of the terrorists came.

On Wednesday evening, Caitlyn Jenner and rapper Nelly were guests at Gotham Hall in Manhattan.

The celebration came after relatives of those who died in 9/11 signed a letter urging him to cancel the Saudi-backed LIV tournament.

Nelly performs during the welcome party for the golfers and fans

Nelly performs during the welcome party for the golfers and fans

Entertainers are seen dressed in iconic New York City costumes at the welcome party for the LIV Golf Invitational - Bedminster at Gotham Hall

Entertainers are seen dressed in iconic New York City costumes at the welcome party for the LIV Golf Invitational – Bedminster at Gotham Hall

Pat Perez of 4 Aces GC (left), his wife Ashley Perez and team captain Brooks Koepka of Smash GC dancing to Nelly

Pat Perez of 4 Aces GC (left), his wife Ashley Perez and team captain Brooks Koepka of Smash GC dancing to Nelly

Patrick Reed of 4 Aces GC shakes hands with Dustin Johnson, with Greg Norman next to them

Patrick Reed of 4 Aces GC shakes hands with Dustin Johnson, with Greg Norman next to them

Johnson is welcomed on stage by Norman

Johnson is welcomed on stage by Norman

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra of Fireballs GC, Carlos Ortiz of Fireballs GC, Greg Norman, CEO and Commissioner of LIV Golf, Abraham Ancer of Fireballs GC and Team Captain Sergio Garcia of Fireballs GC smiling on stage during the welcome party

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra of Fireballs GC, Carlos Ortiz of Fireballs GC, Greg Norman, CEO and Commissioner of LIV Golf, Abraham Ancer of Fireballs GC and Team Captain Sergio Garcia of Fireballs GC smiling on stage during the welcome party

Trump has remained defiant, insisting that the LIV tournament was the future.

All those golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the deeply disloyal PGA, in all its various forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes along, and you’ll get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who millions of dollars a year,” Trump wrote Monday morning on his social media platform Truth Social.

“If you don’t take the money now, you won’t get anything after the merger and you can only say how smart the original signatories were.

‘Good luck to all and congratulations to the truly talented Cam Smith on his incredible WIN!’

Their group 9/11 Justice wrote a letter to the former president expressing their “deep pain and anger” over the tournament.

Trump is pictured above with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in June 2019

Trump is pictured above with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in June 2019

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“The evidence, Mr. Trump, is clearer than ever. The Saudi nation is largely responsible for the deaths of our loved ones and for this horrific attack on America. And you know that,” the letter read.

“We request the opportunity to have some of our relatives visit you in the coming days to discuss our concerns personally with you and urge you to refrain from doing any further business with the regime that was complicit in the murder.” to our loved ones.’

Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the attacks for two decades, although 15 of the 19 men who hijacked and crashed four planes in New York City, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon that day were Saudi citizens.

The FBI released documents from its investigation, called Operation Encore, in November 2021, after Biden ordered their release.

The Bureau had, among other things, investigated whether three people, including an official from the Saudi embassy in the US, had advanced knowledge of the attacks.

An earlier memo released in September describes the “significant logistical support” two of the hijackers had once received in the country, including “obtaining housing and assistance with assimilation.”

Lawyers for 9/11 families believe the desert kingdom financed the terror network that carried out the attacks, al-Qaeda, to prevent homegrown fundamentalists from turning against the ruling royal family.

The terror mastermind, Osama bin Laden, came from a prominent Saudi family before setting up training camps in Afghanistan.

“It is incomprehensible that Donald Trump, a former president of the United States who organizes the Saudi golf tournament, helps it get off the ground 45 miles or 50 miles from Ground Zero, where 750 New Jerseyans were killed.” said Dennis McGinley, whose brother Daniel McGinley died in the attacks while working on the 89th floor of the South Tower.

He told DailyMail.com: ‘As 9/11 families, we’ve had to grow thick skin for the past 21 years, but this really hurts. This one is really painful.’

The families of the victims of 9/11 want to meet with the former president about his decision to host the LIV tournament at his New Jersey Bedminster Golf Club from July 29 to 31

The families of the victims of 9/11 want to meet with the former president about his decision to host the LIV tournament at his New Jersey Bedminster Golf Club from July 29 to 31

The PGA ripped tournaments from Bedminster and Trump's Doral course in 2016 and 2021

The PGA ripped tournaments from Bedminster and Trump’s Doral course in 2016 and 2021

In a Truth Social post, Trump congratulated 'really talented' Cam Smith, who has competed in the LIV tournament

In a Truth Social post, Trump congratulated ‘really talented’ Cam Smith, who has competed in the LIV tournament

McGinley said 9/11 Justice has not heard from anyone on Trump’s team since sending the letter.

The letter references comments made on Fox News in 2016.

‘Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis. It was Saudi. Look at Saudi Arabia, open the documents,” he told the channel at the time.

“The people came, most of the people came from Saudi Arabia. They didn’t come from Iraq.’

The letter continued: “It is incomprehensible to us, Mr. Trump, that a former president of the United States would set aside our loved ones for personal financial gain.

“We hope you will reconsider and consult with us about your business relationship with the Saudi Golf League.”

Despite his earlier comments, Trump remained friends with the Saudi kingdom.

He supported arms deals with the kingdom despite the proxy war in Yemen and refused to sever his relationship with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – despite global outrage over the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

McGinley was on the phone with his brother before the plane flew into the tower.

Daniel had just moved into his “dream home” in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and he and his wife Peggy were raising their five children there.

He said his brother was crying on the phone and told him, “I just want to go home to Peggy and the kids.”

“I’ve been haunting this conversation for 21 years,” McGinley said.

“One of the golfers said in their interviews, he said, ‘Look, you know, we’re just trying to take care of our families.’

“Yeah, my brother Danny and 2,900 other people were just trying to provide for their families too. And that was horribly taken from them on 9/11.”

The LIV has held two major events so far, with the third scheduled for the Bedminster tournament.

Trump will also host the Season Ending Team Championship at the Trump National Doral Miami.

His decision to host the LIV tournaments is likely driven more by his soured relationship with the PGA than as a favor to the Saudis.

The PGA ripped off tournaments from Bedminster and Doral in 2016 and 2021.

They said the 2016 tour was not pulled from Doral for political reasons, but the 2021 tour was moved from Bedminster in the days following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

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