Finishing his time overseas at this year’s G20 summit of world leaders, President Donald Trump held a wide-ranging press conference in which he eventually got to the subject of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. intelligence agencies and the United Nations itself have concluded that Saudi Arabian authorities up to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are behind the murder, but Trump still adamantly refused to lob any direct criticism at the leader, although he did claim to have brought up the incident in a private meeting with him.
After initially ignoring a question about the issue from CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta, he told another reporter:
‘I did mention it to him very strongly. That was a bad event. I asked him what was happening.’
On the “bad event” note, Trump had told Acosta the following:
‘I’m extremely angry and unhappy about a thing like that taking place.’
None of this offers any substantive address of the issue at hand, however. Saudi leaders are alleged to have pursued Khashoggi because of his coverage painting their leadership in a grim light. At no point in the time since the murder months ago has Trump taken a stance condemning bin Salman, who he lied that “nobody has directly pointed a finger at” over the incident. When asked about the intelligence contradicting his claim, he said that although the administration “can declassify,” he did not want to talk about any such information at that time. In short, the president is acting as an enabler for a dictator who murders journalists — and not just one!
As he put it to Acosta:
‘I get along with everybody, except you people. I also get along with people who would be perceived as being very nice. I get along with President Putin. I get along with Mohammed.’
Notably, during his time overseas for the G20 summit, Trump “joked” with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the leaders should “get rid” of journalists who produce critical stories. The Committee to Protect Journalists has shared that 26 journalists have been murdered in Russia while Putin has been president, and many lost their lives while pursuing coverage of corruption giving authorities an apparent motive to pursue their murder. In other words, considering Trump palled around with this guy despite all this, maybe the president has hesitated to confront the Saudi leaders over the Khashoggi murder because he just doesn’t care that much.
Also while sitting with Putin, Trump joked about the election interference efforts they’ve carried out in the United States. After a reporter asked him whether he would press Putin to stop the behavior during a private meeting, he only offered the mocking, slight grin accompanied statement right then and there to Putin:
‘Don’t meddle in the election.’
The exchange comes awhile after Trump and Putin discussed the Russia scandal during a phone conversation only in the context of decrying the whole thing as a “hoax.” Trump said the Russian leader “smiled” on that call — so it’s great to see that the president of the United States is getting along great with dictators from around the world!
Featured Image via screenshot