U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday amid growing evidence that the Saudis orchestrated the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Pompeo traveled to Riyadh at the behest of President Donald Trump to get answers on Khashoggi’s death as Trump tries to salvage a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis.
The United States and Saudi Arabia are “strong and old allies. We face our challenges together — the past, the day of tomorrow,” MBS told reporters after meeting with Pompeo.
Sec. of State Mike Pompeo greets Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman before their meeting pic.twitter.com/EU0ueNr9ZD
— Axios (@axios) October 16, 2018
But the smiley, jovial images coming out of the meeting are sending a message that one man’s life is less valuable than the sale of weapons to a country known for its funding of terrorist activity.
Republican strategist and vocal Trump critic Ana Navarro tweeted that the Saudis “just chopped-up a journalist who was a US Permanent Resident. He lived in the US. He worked at a US company. What in the hell is there to smile about? Disgusting.”
Hey, @SecPompeo, these people just chopped-up a journalist who was a US Permanent Resident. He lived in the US. He worked at a US company. What in the hell is there to smile about?
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) October 16, 2018
Activist Leah McElrath had a much harsher take on the photo-op.
“Pompeo met with MBS in Saudi Arabia today. This photo op was a choice,” she tweeted. “A choice that sends a signal to the world: ‘Assassinate perceived dissidents with impunity. This administration will smile by your side.'”
Pompeo met with MBS in Saudi Arabia today.
This photo op was a choice.
A choice that sends a signal to the world:
“Assassinate perceived dissidents with impunity. This administration will smile by your side.” pic.twitter.com/sE8313t4MO
— Vote November 6th (@leahmcelrath) October 16, 2018
Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, a colleague of Khashoggi, said that the “suckuppery” to Saudi Arabia was “nauseating.”
the suck-uppery is stomach turning
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) October 16, 2018
Trump has boasted that the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs and that it’s better for the world if the Saudis purchase American-made weapons of war, rather than those of China or Russia.
Trump has vowed “severe punishment” if the Saudis were directly responsible for Khashoggi’s death but has reaffirmed his commitment to the weapons sale
This is fueling a firestorm of dissent on social media.
so is this how we are great … being beholden to a human rights-free absolute monarchy because money
— Julie M does not need you to explain it to her (@exurbanmermaid) October 16, 2018
Is that like a congratulatory handshake or what????
— TX Vote starting Oct 22 (@cjkeller) October 16, 2018
Oh look a corrupt Republican in his natural habitat
— JLD (@jldoggett1) October 16, 2018
So giddy and chummy. Surprised they didn't have a "bro" secret handshake worked out between them. Meeting a MURDERER who is ONLY admitting to TORTURING Jamal Khashoggi to DEATH by mistake – all smiles and pats on the back. Quite the message to send to the world.
— Donkey_OT (@Donkey_OT) October 16, 2018
What's Pompeo smiling about?
— CathyO (@cathyob1) October 16, 2018
"I'm very sorry for this disturbance your highness…"
— Adam (@Rastafenian1) October 16, 2018
Scandalous, this administration not condemning the actions of the Saudis.
— Liz (@mommavandam) October 16, 2018
Shaking the hands of a murderer while smiling .
— Janet Hussey (@HusseyJanet) October 16, 2018
What a horror to shake that murderer's hand while the world watches the USA lose it's stature in the world. We have sided with a maniac who had a journalist hacked up with a bone saw. Why are you making light of this meeting, Axios?
— Santa Cruz Resists (@SantaCruzMag) October 16, 2018
Same disgusting smile as when they were locking up children in cages, voting in a sexual assault judge, banning Muslims, cheating in elections, mocking war heroes, etc etc. This is the Republican Party. Same as the old, but not hiding their hate anymore, actually enjoying it.
— Heather Garrison (@Heather3436) October 16, 2018
Business as usual is not sitting well with the viewing public.
Normalising murder to protect big businesses in arms sales not to mention his boss who is in hock to MBS et al.
— MAC (@MaryAnitaConroy) October 16, 2018
Absolutely appalling. I keep thinking it's impossible to be more disgusted with the Trump administration but then, of course, it is and I am.
— Lia Rushton (@lia_rushton) October 16, 2018
Absolutely disgusting!! Is he still going to Turkey after this to help with the coverup story?
There are so many reasons to VOTE Nov 6th! Laughing off extrajudicial killings in Saudi and elsewhere is not what America was built on and it will happen here under this regime!
— Bruce MacDonald (@Bmac8654) October 16, 2018
— deannatow (@towdeanna61) October 16, 2018
Pompeo works for a man who routinely insists that journalists are the enemy of the people. Trump _wishes_ he could do what MBS has done –and given time, he will.
— Stan Trujillo (@rezionet) October 16, 2018
Follow The Money!! They’re still making deals with them. Didn’t Jared Kushner just receive millions from them. This is horrible and to think Trump & his Administration was somehow involved is sickening!!!
New season of “How to get away with murder”
— IDoWorship (@IDoWorship) October 16, 2018
He HAS to smile to make nicety with the country who gave us 3K dead Americans on 9/11.
— Cattiva (@mizzmaxwellww) October 16, 2018
Now this could happen to anyone for as long as you are a journalist, a dissident, individuals speaking to power and it will be acknowledged and swept under the rug. When US failed to act, evil becomes normal
— West 79 INC. (@McShaffy) October 16, 2018
The optics for the United States have been far from stellar.
Trump has suggested without evidence that “rogue killers” could be responsible for Khashoggi’s death despite audio and video recordings of the murder claimed to be in possession of Turkish officials and an evolving cover story being pushed by the Saudis.
The Saudi government is reportedly preparing to announce that Khashoggi, who was interrogated, tortured and murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul October 2, was killed by accident during a botched interrogation.
“Two sources close to the kingdom confirmed to CBS News later on Monday that the Saudi government was planning to admit he was killed, but call it an accident,” Tucker Reals reported on Tuesday.
It won’t be so easy, however, to write off the 15 Saudi operatives lying in wait inside the Saudi Consulate for Khashoggi’s arrival with a bone saw in hand as an accident.
Following his meeting with MBS and other high-ranking Saudi officials, Pompeo “thanked the King for Saudi Arabia’s strong partnership with the United States,” and for “his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.”