Roger Sollenberger, BuzzFeed Contributor, Kathleen O’Neill, BuzzFeed Contributor
Rabia Kazan, a Turkish national who used to be a Trump fanatic, made a big donation to the president’s campaign. But she’s not a US citizen.
A former rising star in MAGA world recently renounced the orbit of operatives who support President Donald Trump, calling them a “cult” and saying they broke campaign finance laws by requesting and taking her campaign donations.
Now, Rabia Kazan is talking to the FBI.
“I lost everything with these people,” Kazan told BuzzFeed News from the lobby of the Connecticut hotel where she now spends most of her time.
Kazan’s time in the MAGA world saw her make connections with top figures and lesser-known operatives. But she now believes she was “used” for her money — and for her identity as a former Muslim to help smooth over Trump’s incendiary comments about Islam.
Kazan began her career as a journalist in Turkey in the 1990s, finding fame after scoring a jailhouse interview with Mehmet Ali Ağca — the Turkish ultranationalist who shot Pope John Paul II in 1981. She got into the prison by pretending she was engaged to Ağca — sparking rumors she became his fiancé while he was in lockup.
In 2007, she published a book, Angels of Tehran, based on her interviews with more than 200 women about abuses against them under extreme forms of Islam. She moved to the US in 2010 as a student and has been here ever since. She continued speaking publicly about women in the Muslim world, in particular targeting Sharia law and extremist ideology, and converted to Christianity. In 2015, she began supporting Trump because of his condemnation of radical Islam, despite his blatantly racist fear mongering.
“I was extremely worshipping of Trump,” Kazan told BuzzFeed News. “I fight for women’s rights in the Middle East and fight against ISIS, and I believed Trump was against radical Islam and tough on ISIS. I was thinking he really wanted to help us in the Middle East.”
Kazan had a knack for publicity, and eventually gained the attention of Trump’s election efforts. In April 2016, she joined the board of directors for the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, a group cofounded by several Trump surrogates and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who is currently serving out a prison sentence after pleading guilty to federal campaign finance violations.
For nearly four years, Kazan, 43, was a frequent speaker on the MAGA circuit, receiving awards from campaign surrogates and posing for photographs with a who’s who of the president’s inner circle: Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Michael Flynn, Kellyanne Conway, and more — including Trump himself.
Her social media accounts from 2018 to 2019 were packed with glamorous selfies at various Trump hotels and events, often with many members of MAGA world’s second string, such as Trump campaign proxy Martha Boneta, Housing Secretary Ben Carson’s son, and Rudy Giuliani’s 20-year-old personal assistant, Christianné Allen, who once accompanied Kazan on a trip to Beverly Hills.
And she had money. Kazan said she received an inheritance after her mother’s death in 2018. Her sister, Betul, married into one of Turkey’s wealthiest families, which owns the Turkish plastics company, Plastmore.
In early March 2019, Boneta connected Kazan to RNC finance officials so she could purchase a $5,600 VIP ticket for a Trump Victory fundraiser in Mar-a-Lago, featuring the president himself. The ticket, in an email, was described as “VIP reserved section (closest to stage), upgraded hors d’oeuvres, drink service.”
kazan considered Boneta a close friend — the two met in 2017 at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC — and said Boneta knew she wasn’t a US citizen.
“I was just the introduction,” said Boneta, a Trump campaign surrogate. “I didn’t have anything to do with that.”
“I know she provided all her documentation at the time; she provided her passport and everything,” said Boneta. “Rabia never misrepresented her status.”
FEC records show that Kazan made a $2,800 to Trump Victory, which was transferred the same day to to Donald Trump for President, Inc. The donation and transfer both list MEWC — the Middle Eastern Women’s Coalition, a pro-Trump group Kazan formed — as her employer. Boneta also donated, and Kazan paid for the suite they shared at the nearby Breakers hotel.
“We only accept donations in accordance with federal election laws,” an RNC official told BuzzFeed News. “If we see evidence that a donation was made by a foreign national, we follow the law’s procedures and return the money.” Read More @