With a Washington Post columnist’s suspected murdered at the hands of Saudi Arabia, you would expect tough talk from the White House, sanctions, and a series of other gestures aimed at tampering down the tactic of assassinating unkind critics. Instead, the Trump Administration is either staying silent about their relationship with the Saudis or actually pushing ahead with deals and meetings.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Friday morning that he is planning on going to a conference in Saudi Arabia that brings in elites from around the world. A number of outlets, including Bloomberg, CNN, and CNBC have said that they won’t be attending the event, but Mnuchin said, “I am planning on going if more information comes out and changes.” He added, “We all want information, so let’s wait and see what information comes out in the next week … Saudi has been a very good partner of ours in a lot of areas.”
President Donald Trump has said that he will go ahead with the $110 billion arms deal his administration negotiated with the Arab nation. When a reporter in the Oval Office asked if he planned to pull out, he quipped, “What good does that do us?”
During a “Fox & Friends” interview on Thursday, Trump spoke blandly about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, saying, “I don’t like it. No good.”
But while Trump is planning on going ahead with his deal, Congress has some tough words for him. Even his allies in the Republican party have spoken out against aiding regimes suspected of murdering journalists. Senator Rand Paul called for Trump to “immediately halt arms sales and military support.”
The Saudis will keep killing civilians and journalists as long as we keep arming and assisting them. The President should immediately halt arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 11, 2018
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter on Wednesday calling on Trump’s administration to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Perhaps the most under-the-bullseye in this ugly story is Jared Kushner, who has played host to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Among other things, Kushner is hoping for MBS’ support in navigating his peace plan between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The Saudis have maintained that they didn’t murder Khashoggi, who hasn’t been seen since he entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey on October 2, but their denials are hardly convincing. CNN recently reported that Turkish officials say they have audio and video that proves Khashoggi was murdered.