This Donald Trump answer on Saudi Arabia and Jamal Khashoggi is a wow

Donald Trump's unconventional approach to, well, everything is a hallmark of his presidency. It's at least p...

Posted: Oct 25, 2018 10:09 AM
Updated: Oct 25, 2018 10:09 AM

Donald Trump's unconventional approach to, well, everything is a hallmark of his presidency. It's at least part of why he got elected two years ago. But even by his own unorthodox standards, his answer to a question Tuesday from the Wall Street Journal stands out.

Here's the exchange regarding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, commonly known as MBS, and the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi:

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Jamal Khashoggi

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Misc people

Political Figures - US

Saudi Arabia

US federal government

White House

WSJ: Do you believe him? Do you believe the denials?

Mr. Trump: I want to believe him. I really want to believe him. They've been a very good ally. They've been a tremendous investor in our military equipment and other things. They buy tremendous amounts of things from our country. It probably amounts to millions of jobs, you know, a million jobs. That's a lot of jobs. So I certainly want to believe him.

That's amazing stuff. And not in a good way.

Trump is making clear that he is going out of his way to believe MBS' claim that he had no idea about the attempt to lure Khashoggi, a prominent critic of the Saudi government, to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he was killed. Why? Because "they buy tremendous amounts of things from our country," according to Trump.

So, to simplify: The President of the United States is saying that he "really want(s) to believe" the Saudi government's story that Khashoggi died accidentally after a fistfight within the consulate because he doesn't want our lucrative business relationship with the Arab country to change.

Got that?

The problem with all of that is simple: There are any number of elements of the story the Saudis are telling that have either changed or don't jibe with known facts. If the killing was accidental, why did the Saudi government refuse to say anything about it for weeks? Why do we still not know the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body? Why was a bone saw brought into the consulate, as one source told The New York Times? Why was a body double spotted wearing Khashoggi's clothes in the hours after the murder?

And remember that Trump has from the start bent over backwards in hopes that the Saudi government can find an explanation that allows the US to maintain their mutually beneficial relationship.

First, Trump said he took King Salman's word that he knew nothing of the events surrounding Khashoggi's death, and floated the idea it might have been "rogue killers" who somehow gained entry to the consulate (Trump never explained where he got that theory from -- or whether he had any reason to believe it was true).

Then, late last week, he said he believed the Saudi government's "fistfight" explanation.

Now comes this Wall Street Journal interview where Trump makes plain how badly he wants the Saudis to find an explanation that allows them to maintain their mutual financial interests.

And, to be clear, this is not the first time where Trump has prioritized financial and/or geopolitical concerns over human rights. His public admiration for the likes of Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin -- all leaders who have questionable human rights records that Trump has either glossed over or ignored completely in meetings with them -- is well known.

While each of those episodes drew media attention, none of them were as brutally calculating as what Trump told the Journal about Khashoggi. And that is saying something.

This article has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312712

Reported Deaths: 7223
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21445257
Hinds20264414
Harrison17785308
Rankin13548278
Jackson13401246
Madison10055217
Lee9959173
Jones8361163
Forrest7638152
Lauderdale7191240
Lowndes6361144
Lamar620686
Lafayette6164118
Washington5318133
Bolivar4796132
Oktibbeha460698
Panola4550105
Pearl River4493145
Marshall4393103
Warren4371121
Pontotoc419372
Monroe4089133
Union408876
Neshoba4022176
Lincoln3944110
Hancock376886
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335590
Tate332084
Pike3290105
Scott314973
Alcorn311268
Yazoo310269
Itawamba299277
Copiah296065
Coahoma293979
Simpson293888
Tippah287468
Prentiss278960
Marion268780
Leake265573
Wayne262241
Adams261882
Grenada260085
Covington256281
George246748
Newton246161
Winston226881
Tishomingo225467
Jasper220748
Attala214173
Chickasaw206957
Holmes188672
Clay184654
Stone181833
Clarke177879
Tallahatchie177840
Calhoun169732
Yalobusha162936
Smith162134
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125838
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104626
Claiborne102230
Benton99025
Humphreys96133
Kemper95328
Franklin83423
Quitman79916
Choctaw76018
Wilkinson66830
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 529446

Reported Deaths: 10930
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763031516
Mobile40850804
Madison34622501
Tuscaloosa25701451
Montgomery24289585
Shelby23367247
Baldwin21035307
Lee15822169
Calhoun14469313
Morgan14266279
Etowah13806352
Marshall12185222
Houston10533280
Elmore10029205
Limestone9948150
Cullman9640193
St. Clair9589239
Lauderdale9407239
DeKalb8814185
Talladega8199175
Walker7214277
Autauga6914108
Jackson6801111
Blount6635136
Colbert6288134
Coffee5498117
Dale4820111
Russell438438
Chilton4258111
Franklin424782
Covington4111117
Tallapoosa4004150
Escambia393076
Chambers3555123
Dallas3543151
Clarke350661
Marion3105100
Pike310177
Lawrence299798
Winston273672
Bibb260463
Marengo249064
Geneva247676
Pickens233659
Barbour230756
Hale222276
Butler215869
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184145
Randolph179241
Monroe177040
Washington167039
Macon158850
Clay155156
Crenshaw151957
Cleburne148341
Lamar141534
Lowndes138553
Wilcox126729
Bullock122941
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa106928
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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