The Saudi government’s new explanation for how Khashoggi died (after nearly two weeks of lying and saying he didn’t die at the embassy but left peacefully on his own) is utterly laughable, but Trump is predictably buying it and using it to justify not losing any precious arms sales to the kingdom.
US President Donald Trump said Friday he found Saudi Arabia’s explanation about the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi credible and termed it an “important first step.”
Trump added if the US takes action, he does not want it to impact arms sales to the kingdom, which said Khashoggi was killed in a fight at its Istanbul consulate. Turkish officials pointed to a state-sanctioned hit.
“I do, I do,” Trump said when asked if he found the Saudis’ explanation credible, adding: “It’s early, we haven’t finished our review or investigation, but… I think it’s a very important first step.”
“I would prefer, if there is going to be some form of sanction or what we may determine to do, if anything… that we don’t use as retribution canceling $110 billion worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs,” he said during a visit to Arizona, referring to a major arms deal with the kingdom.
Indeed, one major study found that American sanctions on Iraq had cost the American economy $175 billion since being imposed prior to the nuclear agreement we signed with that country. If you pointed that out to Trump, he would no doubt say that’s totally different because is an evil country that sponsors terrorism. The fact that he couldn’t find Yemen on a map with a flashlight and a compass probably is not a coincidence. Yes, sanctions impose a cost on our economy when they forbid American companies from doing business with another country. That does not mean we shouldn’t impose sanctions when they are warranted. And it certainly doesn’t mean we should only be concerned about those costs when it’s politically convenient to do so.
And it occurs to me after writing this that the headline isn’t true. It isn’t that Trump buys this obvious lie, it’s that he simply doesn’t care.