President Trump has openly bragged about protecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman from scrutiny after royalty was accused of orchestrating the murder and dismemberment of a Washington Post columnist, reports Bob Woodward in his new book. Trump told Woodward in January that he had “saved” the prince’s “donkey,” justifying his efforts by noting that the Saudis bought arms from the United States and explaining that the country has oil and “religious monuments” that confer “power.” real”.
When asked repeatedly if he believed bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Trump replied, “He says no.” The CIA concluded that Salman ordered the assassination. Intelligence reports indicate that 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul in October 2018, where they killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate, cut his body into pieces, and dumped him in several plastic garbage bags.
Acting on that assessment, members on both sides have advanced measures to hold bin Salman accountable, including a resolution calling him an accessory to Khashoggi’s murder. The Senate voted unanimously to pass that measure in December 2018, and all House members except seven Republicans also voted in favor of the resolution.
But Trump and members of his administration have openly and consistently expressed doubts about bin Salman’s involvement, contradicting the assessment of the American intelligence community. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said there was “no direct report” of MBS’s guilt, while former Defense Secretary James Mattis said there was “no smoking gun.”
Trump’s refusal to hold bin Salman accountable has had dire consequences for the region. The majority of lawmakers voted to end US support for Saudi Arabia’s military efforts in Yemen, a war that perpetuated a terrible humanitarian crisis in the region. In 2019, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate passed laws to block or limit US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. The votes came after the Trump administration used an emergency declaration to reach a deal that would have sold $ 8.1 billion in arms to the three countries without congressional approval.
But the bills to restrict gun sales never became law. Trump blocked them with a veto that lawmakers could not ignore.
Here’s Bob Woodward’s account of his January 22 conversation with Trump about the Khashoggi’s murder and the role of bin Salman. The passage appears in Woodward’s book, Rage, on bookstore shelves on September 15.
“This is one of the creepiest things,” I said. “You said it yourself”
I insisted on the role of MBS in the murder of Khashoggi. My reports showed that Trump had told others about the crown prince. “I saved his ass,” Trump said after the US protest over Khashoggi’s murder. “I was able to persuade Congress to leave it alone. I managed to stop them. “He had sarcastically said to members of Congress:” Let them trade with Russia instead. Buy a thousand planes from Russia instead of the United States. Guys, you have to be smart. ”
In May 2019, Trump used his emergency authority to circumvent congressional objections and sell the Saudis $ 8 billion in weapons.
Now, Trump said, “Well, I understand what you’re saying and I’ve been very involved. I know all about the whole situation.” He said that Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of billions in the United States and is responsible for millions of jobs. job. On MBS, Trump said: “He will always say he didn’t. He tells everyone and frankly, I’m glad he says it. But he will tell you, he will tell Congress and he will tell everyone.
Source: Rolling Stone