Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post columnist who’d been critical of the Saudi kingdom and more specifically Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. On October 2, 2018, Khashoggi, who was living in a self-imposed exile, traveled to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.
Khashoggi never left the Saudi Consulate as he was assassinated and brutally dismembered. The killers even went so far as to dress themselves in the dead man’s clothes and walk from the building so they could claim that they didn’t know what happened once he left. The Saudi government denied knowing anything about the death, but after telling several fake stories, Saudi Arabia’s attorney general owned up to the murder being a premeditated hit. In November of the same year, the CIA found that Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s assassination.
President Trump reportedly bragged that he saved bin Salman, Khashoggi’s executioner, from congressional scrutiny, according to excerpts from Bob Woodward’s upcoming book Rage.
Business Insider obtained an early copy of the book that is set to be released Tuesday and found that in one of Trump’s 18 interviews with the author, the president of the United States boasted about saving Saudi’s crown prince from any retribution.
“The people at the Post are upset about the Khashoggi killing,” Woodward told Trump on January 22, his book says. “That is one of the most gruesome things. You yourself have said.”
“Yeah, but Iran is killing 36 people a day, so —” Trump began, before Woodward pressed Trump about bin Salman’s role in ordering Khashoggi’s killing.
“I saved his ass,” Trump said. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.”
On Thursday, a reporter asked Trump what he meant when he claimed he “saved” the Saudi leader’s “ass.”
Trump replied: “You’ll have to figure that out yourself.”
From Business Insider:
During his January 22 conversation with Woodward, the president said: “Well, I understand what you’re saying, and I’ve gotten involved very much. I know everything about the whole situation.”
Trump added that Saudi Arabia spent billions of dollars on US products. He also stressed MBS’s claim that he’s innocent, though US intelligence and other foreign intelligence agencies have concluded otherwise.
“He will always say that he didn’t do it,” Trump said of MBS. “He says that to everybody, and frankly I’m happy that he says that. But he will say that to you, he will say that to Congress, and he will say that to everybody. He’s never said he did it.”
“Do you believe that he did it?” Woodward asked.
“No, he says that he didn’t do it,” Trump replied.
“I know, but do you really believe —” Woodward said before Trump cut him off.
“He says very strongly that he didn’t do it,” Trump said. “Bob, they spent $400 billion over a fairly short period of time.”
Trump did everything within his power to assure that bin Salman was not even questioned about Khashoggi’s murder. In fact he “used executive power to block or bypass congressional efforts to cut ties with Riyadh after Khashoggi’s murder,” Business Insider reports.
Just last year, the president vetoed a “bipartisan bill to end U.S. support for the Saudis in Yemen. The war in Yemen has led to a devastating humanitarian crisis, and the Saudi-led coalition has killed civilians using US-made bombs.”
The president continues to sell weapons to the Saudis, including an $8 billion deal that Congress tried to block with resolutions, which were swiftly vetoed.
Despite several interviews with the former Post reporter, all of which were taped and several interviews with multiple senior White House officials and former officials, Trump has still called the book a “fake” and claimed that many of his taped quotes were taken out of context.