President Donald Trump has refused to come down harshly on those widely believed to be responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and at a paid speaking tour that began this week in Toronto, Hillary Clinton refused to let him off the hook for that egregious behavior.
Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate in Turkey seeking papers associated with an upcoming wedding — and he never came out. In the time since, it’s emerged that the CIA — and many other interests — have concluded that the command for the murder came from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman himself. Indeed — there’s a report that he was updated on the effort via phone soon after it was completed.
All we’ve got from Trump, though, are half hearted attempts to insist that he thinks murdering a journalist is wrong that remarkably enough we’re at a place to need and that coexist with insistence that little to nothing should be done that would dampen the American relationship with the Saudis. A selection of sanctions have been placed on a small group of people the Saudis identified as having carried out the murder, but that’s it, and the president’s explicitly undercut the idea of any more sanctions.
Trump could be understood to be saying — it’s bad, but it’s not that bad, right?
In Clinton’s words:
‘We have a president who is part of the cover up of what happened in that consulate when Mr. Khashoggi was murdered, and we have a president and those closest to him who have their own personal commercial interests.’
Trump has declined time and time again to go after the Saudis in any sort of substantive fashion to the point that when directly asked recently who should be held responsible, he quipped that maybe the world should since it’s such a vicious place. He echoed that sentiment in a written statement he offered about the situation.
In other words, he’s going all out to avoid even the appearance of placing blame on the Saudi government, which was the first he visited overseas as president.
During that time with the Saudis, he participated in a widely hyped arms deal that turned out to be lots of fluff and little substance. He’s claimed upwards of half a million jobs are set to be created thanks to the deal, but — surprise — there’s zero evidence of that, although the number he cited at rallies inched up and up all the same.
As Clinton mentioned, Trump also has a personal financial stake in the matter. Although he claims independence whenever it’s expedient for him to do so, at a rally in Alabama in 2015, he insisted:
‘Saudi Arabia, I get along 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.’
Are we supposed to believe he won’t act with bias in the situation in light of that business relationship? He hasn’t detached himself from the financial interests despite ceding executive control.
He’s continuing to steer the government according to his own personal ambitions no matter what blood has to be ignored in the process.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot