Don’t Let One Missing Journalist Get In the Way of $110 Billion in Saudi Arms Sales, Trump Says

Brushing back calls for a response, Trump notes Jamal Khashoggi was “not a United States citizen.”

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.

President Donald Trump on Thursday rejected calls to halt $110 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia despite mounting reports indicating the kingdom played a direct role in the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi critic, went missing after entering the country’s consulate in Istanbul last week. A Turkish inquiry has reportedly concluded he was murdered inside the building.

“What good does that do us?” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, in reference to calls to cancel the arms deal. “There are other things we can do.”

“We don’t like it even a little bit,” he continued, speaking of Khashoggi’s disappearance. “But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country knowing they have four or five alternatives, two very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me.”

While the president claimed to “not like” the unfolding diplomatic crisis, he also appeared startlingly unfamiliar with key details surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance. In the middle of his remarks, the president asked for some help: “This took place in Turkey and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen, is that right, or is that right?”

“Permanent resident,” a reporter clarified. Trump seemed to register the fact as if he were learning it for the first time.

Trump’s refusal to stop the arms sales comes amid increasing demands from bipartisan lawmakers for Trump to hold the Saudi Arabian government accountable for Khashoggi’s alleged assassination. During his exchange with reporters on Thursday, Trump again failed to outline key steps the administration was taking to get to the bottom of Khashoggi’s disappearance along with what potential measures he would take to punish the Saudis.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.