Responding to reporters’ questions in the Oval Office regarding the alleged killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi-born journalist who wrote critical pieces of that government’s crackdown on dissent, President Donald Trump suggested that his administration was trying to tread carefully on the matter.
Trump’s comments seemingly prioritized the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States over that of the journalist’s death. The president specifically warned against upsetting Saudi leaders as it could hurt the U.S. monetarily.
“I don’t like stopping massive amounts of money that’s being poured into our country,” Trump said, according to a Twitter post sent out by ThinkProgress writer Aaron Rupar. He added, “they are spending $110b on military equipment and on things that create jobs for this country.”
Continuing to field questions from reporters on the subject, Trump reiterated his concern for keeping relations with Saudi Arabia positive, and questioned whether rumors of Khashoggi’s death posed a serious concern for the United States.
“Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge Khashoggi is not a US citizen, is that right?” Trump asked. A reporter informed the president that Khashoggi is a permanent resident.
Trump said that he wanted to see something done on the matter. “But as to whether we should stop $110b from being spent in this country… that would not be acceptable to me,” he said.
Turkish officials claim that Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday, according to previous reporting from the Inquisitr. Those officials believe he was murdered in the building there.
Khashoggi, who has been a vocal critic of his home nation of Saudi Arabia, left the nation after being threatened to stop writing critically about the Saudi royals and to delete his Twitter account. He went to the consulate in Istanbul so that he could finalize his divorce to his wife in Saudi Arabia, in the hopes that he could then legally marry his Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz.
But after entering the consulate, Khashoggi was not seen again. The Washington Post, fearing for Khashoggi’s life, printed a blank space where his column would ordinarily go after he had disappeared, per previous reporting from Inquisitr.
The comments from Trump may provide greater fodder for critics of the president who say he’s no friend of the news media. Trump frequently fights back against negative news stories printed about himself, as Lesley Stahl claims, in an effort to “demean” and “discredit” reporters. This, Stahl alleges that Donald Trump told her, causes the public to question whether the media are credible storytellers or not, Business Insider relays.