Trump Jr. retweets false claim about Khashoggi

Donald Trump Jr. retweeted an unsubstantiated claim insinuating missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a terrorism sympathizer -- a move that comes as the administration of his father, President Donald Trump, faces pressure on how to respond to the journalist's disappearance.

Posted: Oct 14, 2018 11:13 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2018 11:24 PM

Donald Trump Jr. retweeted an unsubstantiated claim on Friday insinuating missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a terrorism sympathizer -- a move that comes as the administration of his father, President Donald Trump, faces pressure on how to respond to the journalist's disappearance.

Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of the country's government, disappeared last week after he went into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée.

Turkish authorities have said they believe Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed inside the consulate, a startling allegation that is firmly denied by the Saudis.

The series of tweets that Trump Jr. retweeted Friday included a post by Patrick Poole, who according to his Twitter profile is a national security and terrorism correspondent for PJ Media, a conservative-leaning collaborative news and commentary blog formerly known as Pajamas Media.

In his tweet, Poole shared images of a decades-old newspaper article written by Khashoggi about the mujahedeen.

In a photo accompanying the article, Khashoggi, a prominent journalist in the Middle East, appears beside individuals identified as members of the Islamist group and holds a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. A separate photograph in the article pictures Osama bin Laden and some of his associates. Bin Laden cofounded al Qaeda in the late 1980s.

In the tweet, Poole wrote: "I didn't realize until yesterday that Jamal Khashoggi was the author of this notorious 1988 Arab News article of him tooling around Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda co-founder Abdullah Azzam. He's just a democrat reformer journalist holding a RPG with jihadists."

Khashoggi covered al Qaeda as a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan and Sudan and was well known for his several interviews with Osama bin Laden. He distanced himself from bin Laden after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At the time of the news article posted by Poole, the United States was arming and funding the mujahedeen in the Soviet-Afghan War.

Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, retweeted Poole's post with a comment claiming Iranian influence over the news media's reporting on Khashoggi, implying an effort by Iran to damage US-Saudi relations. Iran and Saudi Arabia are longstanding rivals.

"Huh. It's almost like reality is quite different than the evidence-free narratives peddled by media with a long history of cooperating with or getting duped by Iran echo chamber architects," Davis wrote on Twitter.

Trump Jr. then retweeted Davis' comment.

The Trump Organization on Friday night did not immediately return CNN's request for comment on Trump Jr.'s Twitter post.

Trail of evidence

According to a US official familiar with the intelligence, the United States has intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, but it is unclear if the original plan was to murder Khashoggi or if something went wrong at the consulate and that he might have been killed during an attempt to kidnap him.

A US official familiar with the latest intelligence told CNN that the "working assumption" in Washington currently is that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate in Istanbul.

"We are pretty clear eyed it is likely to have happened, and it didn't end well," said the official, who also cautioned that this was the latest assessment and no conclusions had been made.

However, US officials have so far declined to endorse a Turkish assessment of Khashoggi's death, which includes -- according to Turkish claims -- audio and video recordings from inside the consulate revealing Khashoggi was killed.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker told CNN that the "intel points directly" at Saudis, for Khashoggi's disappearance.

In the wake of the disappearance, Trump and his administration have resisted cutting ties to Saudi Arabia, a key US defense and trading partner.

Although the Saudis have issued a broad denial of responsibility, they have not offered concrete evidence to prove Khashoggi walked out of their consulate or is still alive.

US response

On Friday, Trump vowed to raise the matter with Saudi King Salman and claims that answers will come "sooner than people think," but senior administration officials described a process that could take weeks, if not months, to determine what precisely happened to Khashoggi and develop a US response if it is determined he was killed on orders from the Saudi government.

A combination of Trump's world view and his Middle East ambitions have meant the White House has been loath to criticize Saudi Arabia or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's 33-year-old de facto ruler.

Trump has made clear that his administration will not make human rights overseas a priority; he and especially his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, maintain close ties to the crown prince; and Trump has long had business ties to Saudi Arabia, where he made his first foreign trip as President.

In addition, Trump has established a trio of goals in the Middle East that depend on Saudi Arabia's rulers and their money. The kingdom is central to the Trump administration's goals on Middle East peace, its effort to fight ISIS in Syria and elsewhere, and its foreign policy priority of countering Iran.

That combination of factors explains low-key US responses following aggressive Saudi foreign policy moves and the muted response to Khashoggi's suspected assassination. They also create a dilemma for the White House, as lawmakers moved Wednesday to force a showdown over US values in foreign policy by triggering a human rights probe that could lead to sanctions.

Asked in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" airing Sunday if he would impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia it they're shown to be responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance, Trump repeated earlier remarks that he didn't want to do something that would force US military contractors to lose an order for arms sales, a reference to billions of dollars in arms sales to the country.

"There are other ways of punishing, to use a word that's pretty harsh but it's true," he said, adding later, "We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 296154

Reported Deaths: 6764
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19700230
Hinds18851392
Harrison16736281
Rankin12757265
Jackson12623228
Lee9694161
Madison9480203
Jones7990147
Forrest7234138
Lauderdale6837226
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Lamar589680
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Washington5220130
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Marshall403592
Monroe3990127
Union396174
Neshoba3817169
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Hancock348975
Leflore3380118
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Tate303174
Pike301296
Scott294570
Alcorn292263
Yazoo290565
Itawamba290175
Coahoma281169
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Copiah278758
Simpson276280
Prentiss270258
Wayne254341
Leake252871
Marion252778
Covington249580
Grenada247878
Adams234678
George232145
Newton230852
Winston221877
Jasper213645
Tishomingo212665
Attala206669
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182370
Clay179251
Stone172429
Tallahatchie171239
Clarke169371
Calhoun158028
Smith153033
Yalobusha145036
Greene127833
Walthall124340
Noxubee122831
Montgomery122639
Perry122135
Lawrence120321
Carroll118625
Amite111734
Webster110832
Jefferson Davis102231
Tunica99323
Claiborne98829
Benton93824
Humphreys92927
Kemper90323
Quitman77414
Franklin76119
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62727
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 497154

Reported Deaths: 10029
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson714001387
Mobile36252736
Madison32573462
Tuscaloosa24289414
Montgomery22708519
Shelby22112215
Baldwin19856285
Lee15021155
Calhoun13755288
Morgan13742252
Etowah13379320
Marshall11439210
Houston10110262
Elmore9451185
Limestone9413136
St. Clair9003225
Cullman8979182
Lauderdale8610212
DeKalb8486175
Talladega7582165
Walker6571259
Jackson6542103
Autauga631391
Blount6229127
Colbert5998120
Coffee5259103
Dale4657107
Russell406433
Franklin399778
Covington3989106
Chilton3891100
Escambia378772
Tallapoosa3613143
Clarke343953
Chambers3423111
Dallas3419142
Pike293372
Marion288895
Lawrence284683
Winston258668
Bibb245960
Geneva240270
Marengo238357
Pickens225055
Barbour212951
Hale211969
Fayette201357
Butler201166
Henry182941
Cherokee177739
Monroe166639
Randolph164640
Washington156635
Macon147243
Crenshaw146254
Clay145554
Cleburne139741
Lamar133733
Lowndes132551
Wilcox122525
Bullock117236
Conecuh107024
Perry105927
Sumter99432
Coosa89624
Greene88532
Choctaw55123
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