President Donald Trump shrugged off his own government’s reports concluding Saudi Arabian leadership directed the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year, stressing that the Middle Eastern kingdom is a valuable ally to the U.S.
During an interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd that aired Sunday on “Meet The Press,” the president said his only interests in the Middle East are preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons and protecting Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“That’s all I care about,” Trump said. “Look, Saudi Arabia is buying $400 billion worth of things for us. That’s a very good thing.”
Experts say Trump’s repeated claim that Saudi Arabia has invested hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. goods and services has no basis in reality. The Saudis signed letters of offer and acceptance for $14.5 billion worth of purchases as of October 2018. The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment about the other $385.5 billion.
Trump: "If [Saudis] don't do business with us you know what they do? They'll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese. ... Take their money. Take their money, Chuck." #MTP#IfItsSundaypic.twitter.com/V0yLYYzjj0— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 23, 2019
Trump also told Todd that he spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS) on Friday ahead of his interview with NBC News and that the two had “a great conversation.”
Asked by Todd if he spoke to MBS about Khashoggi, Trump said, “It really didn’t come up.”
The CIA and Turkish authorities investigated Khashoggi’s death and determined MBS personally ordered his murder. Khashoggi, 59, a Washington Post columnist who had been living in the U.S., was an outspoken critic of the Saudi royal family. On Oct. 2, 2018, he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get documents he needed for his planned marriage and instead was killed and dismembered by agents of the Saudi government, the U.S. and Turkish officials...