As you may know, Saudi Arabia has now copped to the killing of Washington Post journalist and frequent regime critic Jamal Khashoggi. Their official story (after trying to cover up the killing) is that Khashoggi was killed during a “fistfight,” which seems… not true. After all, why would Khashoggi try to bare-knuckle box armed Saudi agents? Also, why would the Saudis bring in a bonesaw-wielding doctor adept at quickly carving up human bodies to cover up an accidental death? Seems fishy!
Trump has signaled his eagerness to accept any cover story the Saudis offer, and has, once again, sided with a brutal authoritarian he has benefitted from against his own intelligence agencies. To defend his decision to accept the House of Saud’s ludicrous excuse at face value, Trump has said the Khashoggi is “not a citizen” (he was a permanent U.S. resident, the same legal status Melania Trump’s parents held until recently). He also cited our $100 billion arms contract with Saudi Arabia, claiming that punishing the regime for murdering a U.S. resident might put that contract in jeopardy. (It’s worth pointing out that Saudi Arabia is using American-made munitions to commit human rights atrocities, like targeting school buses in Yemen.)
Scrutiny over both Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s relationship with the Saudis has come under scrutiny as a result. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AKA “MBS”) reportedly bragged that he had Kushner in “his pocket.” There’s been speculation that Kushner, who communicates with bin Salman via WhatsApp in violation of presidential records law, gave bin Salman U.S. intelligence related to who his enemies were ahead of a brutal crackdown on critics by the Saudi Prince. (Amongst other things, MBS turned a hotel into a makeshift prison to house dissident family members.)
The Saudi Crown Prince booked a lavish stay at a Trump-owned hotel, spending millions and making the property profitable after losing money two quarters in a row. Trump has also bragged about how much money he makes off of Saudis in the past, saying “I get along great with all of them, they buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much!”
True to form, Trump’s most loathsome toadies have decided not just to ignore Trump’s glaring conflicts of interest, but to run interference for the president’s galling decision to let Saudi Arabia skate.
Evangelical “Christian,” Trump superfan, and decaying grifter Pat Robertson had this to say: “I know it’s bad but we’ve had all kinds of stuff, but you don’t blow up an international alliance over one person.”
After all, what’s a little bit of cold-blooded murder between business buddies?
Stephen Colbert took Robertson and other hypocritical right-wing Evangelicals to task in a sketch on Late Night With Stephen Colbert. The sketch offers a convenient update to the Ten Commandments in order to accommodate Evangelicals’ new comfort with Islamic state-sanctioned murder.
In the sketch, Moses indicates that the fifth commandment—“Thou shalt not kill”—actually has an asterisk by it.
“Thou shalt not kill…unless there’s a lot of coinage on the table.” Moses says. “Think of all the golden calves you can buy with that kind of scratch. If that be the case than the Big Guy Upstairs is more than willing to look the other way!”