The publisher of the Washington Post blasted President Trump’s response to the Saudi-state-sponsored assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday.
“President Trump’s response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships,” publisher Fred Ryan said in a statement released Tuesday.
Ryan’s reaction came just hours after Trump released a statement indicating he would not pursue further punitive measures against Saudi Arabia beyond the sanctions imposed earlier this month against 17 individuals believed to have been involved in Khashoggi’s assassination at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” Trump’s statement said. “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
Trump has emphasized the business relationship the U.S. has cultivated with Saudi Arabia in defending his decision not to pursue further sanctions and he reiterated that message while addressing reporters outside the White House Tuesday afternoon.
“China and Russia would love to make a hundred billion dollars worth of military equipment form Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “We have the contracts and they wanted those contracts. That would be a big, fat, beautiful gift to China and Russia. It’s about make America great again, it’s about America first.”
Khashoggi, a one-time Saudi government insider, had become a dissident columnist in exile in the U.S. He wrote a weekly column for the Post’s Global Affairs section before he disappeared early last month upon entering the Saudi consulate to obtain divorce paperwork. Turkish investigators determined that Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered by a team of Saudi assassins dispatched to Istanbul for that purpose.
The CIA has reportedly determined that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, though bin Salman has maintained that a team of rogue actors was responsible.