Trump: This thing happened in Turkey and Khashoggi isn’t even a US citizen. pic.twitter.com/3poTLR22jN
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 11, 2018
Courtesy of The Guardian:
Any sense that the administration might seek to impose serious consequences on Saudi Arabia was dispelled by the president. Asked at an impromptu press conference in the Oval Office whether the US would cut arms sales if the Saudi government was found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance, the president demurred, saying the US could lose its share of the huge Saudi arms market to Russia or China.
In the Oval Office Trump pointed out that the disappearance took place in Turkey and that Khashoggi was not a US citizen. On being told that the journalist was a US permanent resident, Trump said: “We don’t like it even a little bit. But whether or not we should stop $110bn [£83bn] from being spent in this country – knowing they have … two very good alternatives. That would not be acceptable to me.”
He continued: “I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money that’s being poured into our country – they are spending $110bn on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country.”
Did you catch that?
First Trump had to establish that this guy was a permanent resident of the United States before he could give a shit, and then he claimed that, though it was bad, it was not bad enough for America to stop doing business with the Saudis.
But it is not just billion-dollar deals with American weapons manufacturers that’s buying immunity for the Saudis, it is also likely their business deals with the Trump organization itself.
Courtesy of Mother Jones:
Trump’s meek response to the diplomatic crisis highlights the ongoing conflicts of interest posed by his business empire.
At a 2015 campaign stop, Trump bragged to the crowd about his business dealings with the Saudis. “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them,” Trump said. “They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”
In 2001, the Saudi government bought the 45th floor of the Trump World Plaza building in New York City as part of its mission to the United Nations. And shortly before entering the White House, Trump was aggressively pursuing deals with Saudi investors and attempting to build hotels in Saudi Arabia. In August 2015, in the middle of his presidential run, Trump registered new corporations to manage a prospective hotel in Jeddah, the gateway city to the Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina. That project never came to fruition, but the Washington Post reported that at least two of Trump’s US hotel properties—both called the Trump International Hotel & Tower, in New York and Chicago—have benefited hugely from Saudi business.
At Trump’s New York hotel, room revenue declined for two straight years after Trump launched his presidential bid but saw a 13 percent boost during the first three months of 2018. The reason, according to hotel management, was Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to New York City in March. The crown prince, who is known as M.B.S. and is said to wield most of the power in the Saudi government, didn’t stay at the Trump hotel (the rooms are apparently not big enough), but members of his entourage did, and that was enough to give a last-minute shine to the hotel’s quarterly finances. Trump’s Chicago hotel, meanwhile, has seen a 169 percent increase in visits from Saudis since 2016.
In simpler terms, it appears that the Saudi government has paid Trump to look the other way, and now they can murder, torture, and oppress at will and the United States will do nothing.
Or to be fair, next to nothing.