The audio recordings apparently back up the theory that not only was Khashoggi killed, but that he was beaten, tortured, and then dismembered after his death. His body removed from the consulate in pieces. It’s a level of brutality that’s should be shocking in any circumstance—exactly the sort of ugliness that’s often attributed to groups like ISIS when Republicans are attempting to justify either intervention or turning their backs on refugees.
Trump: We’ll be having a report out soon. We’re working with Turkey, we’re working with Saudi Arabia. What happened is a terrible thing, assuming that happened. I mean, maybe we’ll be pleasantly surprised, but somehow I tend to doubt it.
Despite the strong action of hoping to be “pleasantly surprised,” it’s not getting in the way of delivering bombs or swapping dollars with bin Salman. An investment summit begins next week in Riyadh but, according to The Guardian, a number of organizations, including the World Bank, have pulled out of the meeting. News organizations including the Financial Times and CNN are refusing to send reporters after the clear signal that reporting something bin Salman doesn’t like can lead to torture and dismemberment. However, not everyone is bothered. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin has informed CNBC that he still plans to attend the Saudi conference, saying “Saudi has been a very good partner.”
There has been some low-key rumbling from some congressional Republicans, but with the election just three weeks away, none of them want to hint at any distance between Trump and the party that has sworn 110 percent loyalty to his every whim. A bipartisan group of 22 senators has written to Trump asking for an investigation … but if it was to take a little time, Republicans would be okay with that.
It’s easy to see why Trump officials would be less than upset by the murder of a journalist. After all, Trump has repeatedly tweeted that journalists are the “enemy of the people,” called any statements he didn’t like “fake news,” caged journalists for the taunting pleasure of his rally crowds, and called for harsh restrictions on the First Amendment (when not claiming that Amendment makes it okay to use stolen goods). Trump has also dismissed reports on the 200+ journalists in Russia who have been killed under Vladimir Putin, saying that no one even knows their names.
Trump: In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know that he has. Have you been able to prove that? Do you know the names of the reporters that he’s killed? Because I’ve been – you know, you’ve been hearing this, but I haven’t seen the names.
If journalists are at the bottom of the list of people Trump believes should be protected, his friends the Saudi Royals are near the top. They go way back.
Trump: Saudi Arabia—and I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.
Trump, along with Donald Trump Jr., had a visit with bin Salman’s representatives at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. Just as in the meeting that was held with Russian operatives, it was all perfectly innocent—so innocent that they covered up the meeting until it was revealed months after the election.
And Trump certainly isn’t shocked by the idea that bin Salman might order someone killed. He and son-in-law Jared Kushner helped put the crown prince in power and even helped select people to murder. In October 2017, Kushner paid a secret visit to bin Salman. While at the prince’s lavish estate, Kushner is suspected of delivering classified information that included the names of other members of the Saudi royal family who were opposed to bin Salman’s rule. Days later, Riyadh and sites around the kingdom were filled with the sounds of gunfire and sirens as bin Salman carried out an “anti corruption” campaign to clear his opposition. A visit from Trump and Kushner also preceded the blockade that Saudi Arabia launched against Qatar. A big part of the reason for that blockage: Qatar’s hosting of media that is critical to the Saudi royals.
Trump’s refusal to take action on the torture, murder, and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi is not surprising. He’s been supporting Mohammed bin Salman’s anti-press terrorism from the start.
What’s one more journalist, when they’ve already helped bin Salman murder his own family? Especially when Trump justifies continuing US relations based on selling bin Salman the material he needs to murder thousands more.