As expected, Donald Trump’s reaction to the Saudi government’s kidnapping or murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been as toothless as possible. While saying he hopes to get to the bottom of it, he made clear that he won’t be allowing it to stand in the way of selling the same government that did this a bunch of weapons.
“We don’t like it, and we don’t like it even a little bit,” Trump said. “But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they have four or five alternatives, two of them very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me.”
Trump’s comments Thursday echoed arguments made in a Fox News interview on Wednesday night in which he said he wants to find out what happened to Khashoggi but expressed concerns about the economic impact of blocking arms shipments.“We have jobs. We have a lot of things happening in this country,” Trump said. “We have a country that’s doing probably better economically than it’s ever done before. Part of that is what we are doing with our defense systems and everybody is wanting them and frankly, I think that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country.”
In a separate Fox News interview on Thursday morning, Trump characterized the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia as “excellent.”
Translation: As long as they keep paying us money, we’ll look the other way and respond to their outrageous human rights abuses with nothing more than a “tsk, tsk” because money is far more important than morality. And by the way, there is no $110 billion in weapons purchases going on. There’s only about $4 billion. The rest is just, as the Washington Post noted, a “wish list” of purchases they’d like to make. As always, Trump is wildly exaggerating things for his own benefit.