Trump says Saudi crown prince ‘totally denied’ Khashoggi dissaperance

Trump says he has spoken to the Saudi crown prince and he ‘totally denied’ any knowledge of Jamal Khashoggi’s suspected murder but adds, ‘If they knew about it, that would be bad’

  • In a tweet Trump insisted that he has ‘no financial interests in Saudi Arabia’ and suggestions to the contrary are ‘FAKE NEWS’
  • But the kingdom has spent more than $270,000 at Trump’s hotel  in Washington; the crown prince stayed there when he visited Trump at the White House
  •  Saudi government frequents a hotel of the same name that’s owned by the president in New York
  • ‘They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much,’ Trump once said
  • Under pressure, Trump said Monday that he had spoken to Saudi King Salman, about missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khasoggi’s disappearance
  • Saudi-born journalist living in Virginia went to Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October and has not been seen since
  • Turkish officials say they have proff that he has was murdered by a Saudi squad
  • Saudis deny allegations and have ordered internal investigation into mystery  

President Trump says that he has spoken to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the kingdom steadfastly denies any involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s suspected murder.

Trump said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told him over the phone, in the presence of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that he ‘totally denied’ knowledge of the journalist’s disappearance.

In tweets, Trump said that the crown prince, who goes by the initials MBS, reiterated his father’s denial of Saudi Arabia’s alleged role in the affair during the call that followed a dinner between Pompeo and the Saudi leader in Riyadh. 

He said in an interview just before the call that he was waiting to hear from the crown prince to pass judgement. ‘If they knew about it, that would be bad,’ he said, reflecting on the matter to Fox Business.

The president declined to weigh in, once again, on the believeability of the claims that Turkey says are bogus. 

Trump personally suggested on Monday that ‘rogue killers’ may have been involved in the hit job after a call with the Saudi king. He has not explained what caused him to believe that or provided evidence of the charge.

President Trump says that he has spoken to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and the kingdom steadfastly denies any involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s suspected murder

Trump said Monday that he had spoken to Saudi Arabia’s Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud about Khashoggi and he ‘firmly denied’ any involvement in the journalist’s disappearance.

The president said that he was sending Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to probe the situation. The State Department announced Tuesday that Pompeo would tack a visit to Turkey onto his overseas trip.

In an interview with Fox Business News set to air on the network on Tuesday evening, Trump said that ‘a lot will be determined’ after Pompeo concludes his talks Saudi Arabia.

Trump had not spoken to the crown prince at the time of the interview. He said he expected him to be calling soon, ‘And you’ll start hearing what is happening.’

‘Turkey is looking at it very strongly. We’re all looking at it together. But Turkey and Saudi Arabia are looking at it very strongly, and it depends whether or not the King or the Crown Prince knew about it in my opinion, number one what happened, but whether or not they knew about it,’ Trump told Fox Business’ Trish Reagan. ‘If they knew about it, that would be bad.’

In his new comments, Trump suggested once again that he is inclined to believe that the Saudi government’s claims that it has no idea what happened to the Washington Post columnist.

He wouldn’t say whether he believed the Saudi leader’s ‘flat’ denial of wrongdoing in a 20-minute phone conversation.

The president had a theory of his own as to what may have happened to Khashoggi, the Saudi-born writer who Turkey says was lured to his death earlier this month in Istanbul.

He suggested without evidence that ‘rogue killers’ could have been responsible for the disappearance that Trump also framed as a murder.

As he left the White House to board Marine One on the South Lawn, the president said the king’s denial ‘could not have been stronger’ and that is all he currently has to go off of.

‘He said it very strongly,’ Trump said when pressed to give his assessment of the Saudi king’s trustworthiness.

Pompeo showed up in Riyadh with a smile on his face on Tuesday to meet with the crown prince, despite new reports out of Turkey that it found evidence of Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate. The writer was reportedly killed during an ‘interrogation gone wrong.’

President Trump pushed back on reporting Tuesday that suggested his personal business interests are tying his tongue on Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in journalist Khashoggi’s disappearance from the nation’s Istanbul consulate.

Trump said in a tweet that he ‘no financial interests in Saudi Arabia’ and suggestions to the contrary are ‘FAKE NEWS’ after a segment on Fox & Friends looked at Nancy Pelosi’s claim on Monday that he did.

Pelosi said on Sirius XM that she was ‘suspicious that there was some kind of financial transaction involved there, whether for his businesses or whatever’ with Saudi Arabia.

At the heart of similar claims is the Saudi government’s payments to the president’s hotels. The kingdom is one of his best customers.

Saudi Arabia has spent more than $270,000 at Trump International Hotel in Washington and frequents a hotel of the same name that’s owned by the president in New York.

President Trump pushed back on reporting Tuesday that suggested his personal business interests are tying his tongue on Saudi Arabia

GOOD BUSINESS: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s stay at Trump’s D.C. hotel during his March White House visit boosted sales by 13 percent

The kingdom has spent more than $270,000 at Trump International Hotel in Washington

rump’s Washington hotel was also the headquarters for Saudi lobbyists in town to lobby against a law permitting victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue the monarchy for damages

Trump bragged as a candidate about his financial relationship with Saudi Arabia, admitting in remarks that have come back to haunt him that his positive feelings for the totalitarian government are based on how much money he makes off the kingdom.

‘Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them,’ he said. ‘They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.’

In 2001, Trump sold an entire floor of Trump World Tower to the Saudi government. The apartment complex is New York City is located across the street from the United Nations. The purchase was valued at $12 million, according to CBS.

Since Donald Trump was elected, the Trump Organization has dropped attempts to expand into the Middle Eastern nation that were disclosed in the sitting president’s financial disclosure paperwork. But the Saudi kingdom on its own has continued to be a top Trump customer.

When the kingdom’s crown prince came to the White House to visit Trump in March, he stayed blocks away, at the president’s newly-opened hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Post reported.

Trump’s Washington hotel was also the headquarters for Saudi lobbyists in town to lobby against a law permitting victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to sue the monarchy for damages.

MBS’ stay alone boosted sales at the D.C. hotel by 13 percent in early 2018.


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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo smiles and shakes hands with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday

Pompeo flew to the Saudi capital to discuss the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the two countries were ‘old, strong’ allies

As he continued to feel the heat over his Khashoggi’s suspected murder at the hands of a Saudi hit squad that the Turkish government says was sent to Istanbul to assassinate the journalist, Trump insisted on Tuesday, however, that his personal financial interests were not part of his calculus to thwart sanctions against Saudi Arabia.

‘For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!’ the president tweeted.

A day prior, Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, said that she believes there’s an untold connection between the kingdom and Trump.

‘In terms of Saudi Arabia, I’ve always wondered why he went there as the first country to visit outside of the United States. Of course, as President of the United States, all the other presidents back to Ronald Reagan went to Canada, or one to Mexico, George W. Bush…so in our hemisphere,’ she told SiriusXM’s ‘Signal Boost’ in an excerpt that aired early of the interview. 

‘There are many friends and allies we could have gone to. So, I was always suspicious that there was some kind of a financial transaction involved there, whether for his businesses or whatever, and I’m not convinced there isn’t,’ Pelosi stated.

Pelosi said she suspects that undisclosed business dealings with Saudi Arabia are guiding Trump’s actions now.

‘I think that plays out here. Now, of course he would say we want to know the truth. We’re not just going to accept we didn’t have anything to do with it as an answer,’ she asserted. 

President Trump said Monday that he has spoken to Saudi’s King Salman about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and he ‘firmly denied’ any involvement in the journalist’s disappearance

Missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, pictured in Bahrain in 2014, may have been murdered after criticizing the Saudi government

Trump said in a tweet just before he talked to reporters outside the White House that he was sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to probe the disappearance 

CLOSE TALKS: Trump said he had now spoken to King Salman, the Saudi king. He and Melania Trump met the king on their very first foreign trip

With a $110 billion arms deal at stake, Trump and other U.S. officials have been loathe to blame Salman’s kingdom for the suspected murder of the Washington Post columnist who had become an outspoken Saudi government critic.

Trump has at the same time attempted to signal that his administration takes violence against the free press seriously given his own tormenting at rallies of ‘fake news’ journalists he’s unabashedly claimed are the ‘enemy of the people.’

‘We’re going to just see what happened. We have to see what happened,’ Trump said Saturday in the Oval Office as he celebrated the return of an American pastor who had been detained in Istanbul. ‘There’s plenty of things we can do that are very tough. Let’s see what happened first.’

Trump said then that he had not reviewed the video evidence that Turkey says it has to prove that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul but that he would be seeing it soon. He did not say Monday whether that remains the case.

He promised in remarks to reporters to ‘get to the bottom’ of the suspected killing that he says King Salman personally denied having ordered.

‘I can only tell you that his denial to me in this one very you know relatively fast phone call, probably lasted 20 minutes, his denial to me could not have been stronger that he had no knowledge. And it sounds like he and also the crown prince had no knowledge,’ Trump said.

The U.S. president has come under heavy pressure to intervene in the probe of Khashoggi’s abduction after the Virginia resident was captured on video entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul two weeks ago and never leaving.

Also at stake is the the relationship Trump built with Saudi Arabia – a relationship cemented during the first stop of his first foreign trip last year as president. The connection blossomed into a lucrative arms deal for the U.S.

Trump told reporters on Saturday that he does not want to jeopardize jobs and business for Americans by punishing Saudi Arabia, if it was responsible, with sanctions that affect the purchase of weapons.

‘It’s $110 billion. I believe it’s the largest order ever made. It’s 450,000 jobs. It’s the best equipment in the world. But if they don’t buy it from us, they’re going to buy it from Russia or they’re going to buy it from China, or they’re going to buy it from other countries,’ he explained.

‘And I would — from the standpoint of jobs, economic development, a lot of other reasons, I would like to do something where we could maybe look at other things — I will tell the senators — because that’s a tremendous order for our companies. It’s a tremendous order for — really, from an economic development standpoint,’ he said. ‘Almost all of our states are involved in that order.’

The crisis also complicates the close friendship the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has cultivated with the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the administration’s efforts to eliminate state-sponsored terror.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow noted on Sunday that terror financing is a topic of the Vision 2030 conference set to take place in Saudi Arabia later this month. 

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin still plans to attend the conference for that reason, Kudlow said, despite other high-profile exits like JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Real power: Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and had been hailed by Trump and given a red-carpet welcome to the Oval Office in March

Trump said Saturday that he would speak to the Saudi king about the suspected tragedy imminently, but the conversation apparently did not take place until Monday morning.

‘Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened “to our Saudi Arabian citizen.” He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!’ Trump said in a tweet just before he left the White House to tour southern storm damage. 

The description of Khashoggi as ‘our Saudi Arabian citizen’ distances Trump from the disappearance of the Washington Post columnist who Turkey says was tortured, murdered and dismembered by Saudi assassins. The two countries have nonetheless announced a coalition that will probe the disappearance that technically took place on Saudi soil.

He repeated the phrase as he spoke to journalists in a light drizzle near the entrance to the residential wing of the White House during a media avail before his departure with the first lady in Marine One.

‘I just spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia and he denies any knowledge of what took place with regards to, as he said, to Saudi Arabia’s citizen. He firmly denies that. I asked the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to immediately get on a plane, go to Saudi Arabia, go to other places if necessary which he probably will, with regards to this. Go to Turkey if necessary,’ Trump said. 

‘The King told me Turkey and Saudi Arabia are working hand in hand very closely on getting to the bottom of what happened so we’ll see what happened. Mike Pompeo is leaving literally within an hour or so heading to Saudi Arabia.’

Trump pledged ‘to leave nothing uncovered’ in the search. ‘With that being said the king firmly denies any knowledge of it. He didn’t really know.

‘I don’t want to get into his mind but it sounded to me like maybe it could have been rogue killers, who knows?’ Trump added. ‘We’re going to try get to the bottom of it very soon but his was a flat denial.’

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, known as MBS, 33, is seen as having the real power in the kingdom that’s formally overseen by his 82-year-old father.

Oil prices rise and the Riyal dips 

Benchmark Brent crude oil jumped by $1.49 a barrel to a high of $81.92 on Monday.

The riyal was quoted at 3.7524 to the U.S. dollar early on Monday, as well, its weakest rate since September 2016, Refinitiv data showed.

It comes after Saudi Arabia issued a thinly-veiled threat to cut oil production if the U.S. imposes sanctions over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.

There are also fears companies will turn away from investing in the kingdom, as CEOs pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 conference this month in droves.

He has introduced ambitious reforms as part of his Vision 2030 campaign. But he has also ruled over a crackdown on ‘corruption’ last year that was effectively seen as a power grab.

The Saudis on Monday agreed to allow Turkey to inspect the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for evidence of Khashoggi’s murder. The joint effort sprouted from a call between King Salman and Turkish President Recep Erdogan on Sunday.

Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the embassy on Oct. 2. Turkey claims to have evidence that Saudi hit team killed and dismembered the journalist.

Saudi Arabia has called the allegations ‘baseless’ and denied that the kingdom was involved. An internal investigation has been opened into the disappearance.  

U.S. lawmakers have taken steps to introduce sanctions on Saudi Arabia for the suspected murder, and and President Trump has promised ‘severe punishment’ for the culprit. 

Saudi Arabia has warned in return that if it ‘receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy.’

‘The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations,’ a statement in the state-run Saudi Press Agency aid.  

Another Arabic-language newspaper in Saudi Arabia, Okaz, said in an English headline on Monday: ‘Don’t Test Our Patience.’  

A team of cleaners entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul today ahead of an inspection by Turkish and Saudi officials

Jamal Khashoggi (right) arriving at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He has not been seen since and Turkey has accused Saudi agents of murdering him

Prominent business leaders like Dimon and Ford Motor Co. executive Bill Ford meanwhile pulled out of the investment conference in Riyadh that is known as ‘Davos in the Desert’ for the number of billionaires and CEOs and it attracts.

Trump punted on the topic on Saturday, asking Pompeo to respond to a question about Mnuchin’s planned participation, instead.

‘I think we need to continue to evaluate the facts and we’ll make that decision. As I talked with Secretary Mnuchin about it last night, we’ll be taking a look at it through the rest of the week,’ Pompeo responded.

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