President Trump dined with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft Monday night, less than five months after the billionaire businessman was charged as part of a South Florida prostitution investigation.
Kraft was among a group of government and business leaders invited to the dinner, hosted at the Treasury Department, to honor the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani. Kraft sat one seat away from the president, with International Monetary Fund Chairwoman Christine Lagarde, who last week was nominated to lead the European Central Bank, seated between the two. Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke was also seated at the head table.
In February, Trump said the episode involving Kraft was “very sad” but pointed out that the Patriots owner had “proclaimed his innocence, totally.”
“But I am very surprised to see it,” the president added.
Kraft, 77, was among more than two dozen people charged in a widespread prostitution investigation involving a day spa in Jupiter, Fla.
But a Florida judge ruled police did not follow proper procedures while installing hidden cameras that the authorities said secretly recorded Kraft. That is likely to cripple the prosecution’s case. Kraft turned down an offer by prosecutors to drop the prostitution charges if he admitted he would have been found guilty at trial and completed an educational course on prostitution, according to The Wall Street Journal. Kraft has pleaded not guilty.
The NFL owners were among numerous high-profile business leaders who attended Monday’s events. Citigroup Inc. chief executive officer Michael Corbat, AT&T Inc. CEO Randall Stephenson, Blackstone Group president Jonathan Gray, Bank of America Corp. chairman Brian Moynihan, Boeing Co. CEO Dennis Muilenburg, and former Walt Disney Co. president and cofounder of Creative Artists Agency Michael Ovitz were among the other guests at the dinner, which was hosted by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“This is a who’s-who,” Trump said of the crowd.
One Washington dignitary not in attendance was U.K. Ambassador Kim Darroch, who was disinvited after Trump tweeted that his administration “will no longer deal with” Darroch following the publication over the the weekend of leaked cables and memos in which the ambassador derided the American president.