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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: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
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