In the face of international demands for all the facts and circumstances surrounding the barbaric murder of Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as the outcry for accountability, President Trump is putting Saudi Arabia’s interests first. The Saudis wish to keep the kingdom clean from the dirtiness it has created. The president’s willingness to let the Saudis escape justice is an affront to the American people.
The top of the royal family in Riyadh knows what happened inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. They know who ordered and oversaw Khashoggi’s grisly death. And the Saudis, up to and including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and maybe King Salman, are dead set against revealing the truth. They cannot keep their secrets without the cooperation and complicity of Trump. And they are getting it.
How the president of the United States can allow Saudi leaders to get away with their display of contemptuous indifference to international demands for truth and justice is beyond understanding.
Set aside for the moment Khashoggi’s association with The Post. The fact is, a legal resident of the United States, with children who are U.S. citizens, was assaulted upon entering the Saudi Consulate, and then murdered. According to Turkey’s top prosecutor, Khashoggi was immediately strangled as part of previously made plans and his body dismembered. What happened to his remains has still not been made public. The Saudis presumably know but won’t say.
There you have it: A legal U.S. resident becomes the victim of a monstrous act by the Saudi government, and our president, reliably informed by both U.S. and senior Turkish officials — with confirmation from Saudi authorities — that the brutal crime was premeditated, and he says not a word to the nation.
Trump knows from U.S. intelligence intercepts that the crown prince was the mastermind of a scheme to get Khashoggi back on Saudi soil. Trump knows from a briefing delivered by his own CIA director what Khashoggi’s last moments were like. And he says nothing about it.
Nothing in the face of outrageous lies. Lies to the face of Saudi Arabia’s oldest Western ally, the United States.
Trump said nothing when Saudi officials lied when they repeatedly said that Khashoggi, who had gone to the Saudi consulate to obtain a document needed for his upcoming marriage, had left the consulate alive, and that they had no information on his whereabouts or fate.
Trump said nothing when Saudi officials next lied in an official statement that Khashoggi went to the consulate because he had expressed an interest in returning to Saudi Arabia.
Trump did squirm, however, when the Saudis said in a statement that discussions on Khashoggi’s return to the kingdom “developed in a negative way,” which “led to a fight and a quarrel between some of them and the citizen [Khashoggi]” — and then to Khashoggi’s death “and their attempt to conceal and cover what happened.”
Trump could go bail for the Saudis only so far. He said the Saudi account of the killing was the “worst coverup ever.”
But when the regime reversed course and said that Khashoggi didn’t die in a botched operation, that his death was not unintended, but was “premeditated ,” based upon information released by Turkish authorities, Trump stirred a little.
The State Department said it would revoke visas for 21 Saudis thought to have been involved in Khashoggi’s death without giving any details about who Trump intends to hold responsible or accountable.
Maybe because he has no such intentions.
Keeping in the good graces of the kingdom’s leadership obviously remains Trump’s top priority. His excuse is the need to continue weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. His only outrage and revulsion would stem from losing business with the Saudis, along with not having them as partners in the United States’ hostility toward Iran.
It is clear that getting to the bottom of Khashoggi’s murder and the crown prince’s role is nowhere near a Trump priority. Because he already knows or suspects the answers. Keeping the United States in the dark works for the president and his interests.
And his contempt for Congress, human rights and America’s moral values shows.
That may be the greatest travesty of all.
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