Relatives of Sept. 11 victims urged Donald Trump to cancel a LIV Golf tournament scheduled for the end of this month at the former president’s Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
“We simply cannot understand how you could agree to accept money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s golf league to host their tournament at your golf course, and to do so in the shadows of Ground Zero in New Jersey, which lost over 700 residents during the attacks,” the group wrote in a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
“It is incomprehensible to us that a former president of the United States would cast our loved ones aside for personal financial gain,” the group’s letter continued. “We hope you will reconsider your business relationship with the Saudi golf league and will agree to meet with us.”
Requests for comment sent to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster and to a spokesperson for Trump were not immediately returned.
LIV Golf’s upcoming presence is particularly painful for some residents of northern New Jersey.
“We’ve had to grow a tough skin over the last 20 years, but this is cruel and callous,” Dennis McGinley of Haworth, N.J., whose brother, Daniel, died in the attack, told NorthJersey.com. “Forget that it’s unpresidential,” he said of Trump. “It’s so hurtful to the 9/11 community.”
As a presidential candidate, Trump had raised the issue of Saudi involvement in the attacks. The letter noted a 2016 Fox News interview in which Trump asked: “Who blew up the World Trade Center? It wasn’t the Iraqis. It was Saudi. Take a look at Saudi Arabia.” He added: “Most of the people came from Saudi Arabia. They didn’t come from Iraq.”
Over 20 years after the attacks, the arrival of LIV Golf further reveals a U.S.-Saudi relationship that remains complicated. President Biden traveled to the country last week and met with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince trying to rehab the kingdom’s global image and the man the CIA said ordered the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In a letter to Biden dated from Sunday, the group 9-11 Families United asked to meet with the president and wrote: “It pains us to say it but you are the first president since the Sept. 11 attacks who has not met with the families and survivors. Yet you just traveled halfway around the world to fist-bump Saudi crown Prince Mohammed vin Salman, where he had the gall to lecture you about human rights and ‘values.’ ”
On Wednesday, 9-11 Families United announced that it would hold a news conference next week at which it will discuss how “Saudi Arabia provided support for al-Qaeda and the 9-11 hijackers,” adding that the World Trade Center was roughly 50 miles from the Bedminster club.
LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the financial arm of the Saudi government. A number of popular golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, joined up, willing to align themselves with a regime seeking to publicly rehabilitate its image in exchange for a huge payday.