Mr. Trump has received heavy criticism for his failure to hold Saudi leadership accountable for the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The president has taken a path of discrediting the media since he was elected and this situation was a miserable example of how he would rather put Saudi interests first than those of our own country.
Trump’s decision stemmed from a partly aspirational $110 billion arms deal between the U.S. and Saudia Arabia. On Monday, ABC reported that Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner inflated this deal with hugely aspirational figures.
According to ABC News:
‘Kushner, in a bid to symbolically solidify the new alliance between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia while claiming a victory on the president’s first foreign trip to Riyadh, pushed State and Defense officials to inflate the figure with arms exchanges that were aspirational at best, the officials said. Secretary of Defense James Mattis supported Kushner’s effort and ultimately endorsed the memorandum, according to a former NSC official familiar with the matter.’
Kushner told colleagues at a national security council meeting weeks before the May 2017 summit in Saudi Arabia:
‘We need to sell them as much as possible.’
One U.S. official reported that Kushner went back and forth with the Department of Defense and State officials on how to get to a larger number. Initially, officials had told Kushner that they had about $15 billion worth of deals in the works, based on the Saudi government’s interest in a THAAD system and maintenance of other systems.
‘The Saudis have bypassed the September deadline for one of the pricier items on the list – the THAAD or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile system. A Defense Department spokesperson said the sale has not been finalized.’
A spokesperson for the National Security Council said that the White House, State Department and Department of Defense worked “tirelessly” with their Saudi counterparts to come up with the arms outlined in the memo. The spokesperson claimed that it was based on “rigorous analysis of Saudi requirements and of optimal U.S. solutions.”
An NSC spokesperson issued a statement, saying:
‘This unprecedented level of cooperation and effort led directly to the Memorandum of Intent, which was signed at the summit. The administration continues to make progress on the $110 billion in intended arms sales announced in May 2017.’
The Washington Post reported that the CIA had concluded that journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination was ordered by the Saudi crown prince. According to The Post:
‘The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing, according to people familiar with the matter.’
The CIA has linked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the operation. The agency reported that a team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on government aircraft in October and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate, where he had gone to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.
The CIA reached its conclusions using multiple sources of intelligence. A U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions also pointed out:
‘The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved.’
Twitter had a lot to say about it:
Featured image is a screenshot from YouTube