US President Donald Trump, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi hold a bright sphere in a dark room in Saudi Arabia.
#BREAKING: Invoking the Global Magnitsky Act w/ @SenBobCorker, requiring POTUS to determine if the Saudi gov’t was responsible for gross human rights violations against #JamalKhashoggi. Under this law, if the White House finds Saudi Arabia responsible, they MUST impose sanctions pic.twitter.com/hnUDECXwhK
— Senator Bob Menendez (@SenatorMenendez) October 10, 2018
A foreign government, an ally of the United States, no less, can not simply assassinate a resident of the United States with impunity while on the land of a NATO member state because he did not like the columns of his newspaper.
And yet, that seems to be exactly what President Donald Trump wants to allow Saudi officials, explaining to reporters on Thursday that he does not want to respond to the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi because “I do not like to stop large amounts of money.” the money that arrives in our country “and” I do not like to stop an investment of $ 110 billion in the United States “.
Trump’s indifference is being rejected by Congress, which is welcome, including some real action by Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who has often complained about Trump but has rarely done anything.
Even so, although a small tension between branches on this subject is welcome, it leaves the elephant in the room without examination. Why is Trump so willing to let the Saudis slide? Trump is paid by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, and the Saudis? Is your son-in-law, Jared Kushner?
Normally, these would be absurd questions to ask about a president. But they are serious. Trump has previously commented on his trade ties with Saudi Arabia, boasting at a campaign rally in Alabama about how much business he did with Saudi Arabian interests. And he has never fully conveyed the scope of his vast commercial and financial ties.
Trump: This thing happened in Turkey and Khashoggi isn't even a US citizen. pic.twitter.com/3poTLR22jN
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 11, 2018
Now, while the White House is preparing to make a policy (or not) at a crucial moment, how can the public have confidence that the president is not only looking after his own interests and not those of the country?
Trump does not care about Khashoggi
After Trump told reporters he did not want to lose the billions that the Saudis spent on American products, he suggested that maybe because Khashoggi was killed in Turkey and because he is a permanent resident of the United States but not a citizen, all It is simply not. What a thing.
The US intelligence agencies UU They are filtering like the sieves that try to do the opposite, communicating to the American public that the US government has solid evidence that things are exactly as they appear and that the Saudi government was behind the mysterious disappearance and possible Khashoggi murder.
A Washington Post report based on US intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials claims that MBS personally “ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then stop him.”
Meanwhile, the United States does not have an accredited ambassador in Riyadh. Instead, the relationship is in the hands of Kushner, an unqualified person whose personal finances are full of conflicts of interest.
It is a situation that no normal president would tolerate. But no normal president would have Trump’s level of financial conflict of interest.
Trump’s personal corruption is a national security problem.
“Saudi Arabia, and I get along very well with all of them. They buy me apartments, “Trump said at a 2015 rally in Alabama. “They spend $ 40 million, $ 50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”
There is nothing illegal in making money with wealthy Saudis. And as Max Fisher explained in his Vox 2016 article on Saudi influence in US politics, there is nothing so unusual about the political elites that align their foreign policy views with Gulf money. But what is unique about Trump is the extent to which he can personally benefit from the Saudi government while in office. In August, for example, the general manager of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan was pleased to announce that after two consecutive years of decline, revenues increased 13 percent in the first quarter of 2018.
Why? Well, according to a letter he wrote that was obtained by the Post, “a last minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia” played a key role.
We learned about this because of the hard work of the journalists who discovered it. The letter also noted the curious fact that, during this lucrative engagement, neither the Crown Prince nor any other member of the royal family stayed at the hotel, as they did not have suites as large as they wanted. However, “due to our close relationships with the industry … we were able to accommodate many of the accompanying travelers.”
Maybe they were close relations with the industry, or maybe a bribe in cash paid by the leader of a foreign dictatorship to the president of the United States. Either way, it’s not something we discovered through President Trump’s financial disclosures because he does not make significant financial disclosures. And it’s not something we discovered through a Congressional investigation because Republicans in Congress have hindered all efforts to find out what’s happening with Trump’s money.
We know this because a general manager of the hotel wrote down this particular news and somehow leaked it to the Post.
It is almost certainly not the only case of a foreign state that puts money directly into Trump’s pockets with disturbing implications for the conduct of United States foreign policy. But the only way to know how often it happens or with which policy options is linked would be to get a Congress that worries you.