In an unusual move, on Tuesday President Donald Trump issued an official statement, titled “Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia” (and subtitled “America First!”) in which he announced his solidarity with Saudi Arabia in the face of mounting evidence that the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi:
The statement read in part:
“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” the president insisted. “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!”
This did not sit well with many, not the least of whom was Fred Ryan, CEO and Publisher of The Washington Post, where Jamal Khashoggi was a columnist.
Ryan penned a scathing rebuke of Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that Khashoggi was murdered on the orders of the Crown Prince, calling it “a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships.”
Statement from Washington Post Publisher and CEO Fred Ryan in response to President Trump's statement today regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. pic.twitter.com/JJzw9yaU6Z
— Washington Post PR (@WashPostPR) November 20, 2018
In his statement, Ryan spoke for many:
“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. He is placing personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests in his desire to continue to do business as usual with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”
He went on:
“President Trump is correct in saying the world is a very dangerous place. His surrender to this state-ordered murder will only make it more so. An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights.”
People hailed Ryan’s statement.
Thank you for this, Mr. Fred Ryan.
The obvious apparently isn't obvious anymore. It's on us now.
— 📎 Marc (@Marc42112172) November 20, 2018
The murder was BARBARIC…the brutality was MEDIEVAL…and the mastermind gets a pass from POTUS! OMG-HELL NO! The nation of S.A. may remain an ally–but we must demand that the King allow for the prosecution of those involved including the "Prince."
— TRUTH&JUSTICE (@OMETA16) November 20, 2018
Trump on Tuesday afternoon insinuated the alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia was far too valuable to be challenged.
The foreign policy of the United States of America is officially for sale. My god, this is truly a low point for this president- another low point
— Mairzy (@MairzyMurter) November 20, 2018
U.S. knows who ordered this man's murder, and the culprit gets away scott free.
— Merdies Hayes (@mrhayes1029) November 20, 2018
Trump’s penchant for trusting the word of autocrats over his own intelligence agencies was in full view.
The world according to Trump: the Saudis killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. What’s one more?
— daniel spencer (@dandy49) November 20, 2018
“America First” = Trump Family Business Interests ONLY.
— Marlene Green (@MarleneGreen) November 20, 2018
Yes… undermining the US…. because Saudi Arabia is such a trusted ally. pic.twitter.com/wgRFmWTOEQ
— DanCol (@Dcolman23) November 20, 2018
Trump reiterated his solidarity with Saudi Arabia later to reporters.
“If we abandon Saudi it would be a terrible mistake,” Trump later told reporters. He added he was “not going to destroy the economy of our country” by potentially disrupting the flow of oil from the Middle Eastern kingdom.
Trump also cited the alleged $450 billion worth of Saudi money he claims is necessary to keep our economy chugging along. ”
After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year,” Trump said, “the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States.”
Trump has repeated this “pants on fire” lie innumerable times since Khashoggi’s disappearance.
tRUmp completed his deal. pic.twitter.com/ASUCXKFYRA
— UnclearLAS (@UnclearLAS) November 20, 2018
“It’s a very simple equation for me,” Trump gloated. “I’m about make America great again and I’m about America first.”
Ryan was having none of it.
Thank you Fred Ryan. We should not let this behavior stand. Among his two years of disgraceful behavior, this is one of the most vile and disgusting things Trump has done. https://t.co/nl37Wiczm7
— TK (@grandpabodie) November 20, 2018
“In this failure of leadership from President Trump,” Ryan concludes, “it now falls to Congress to stand up for America’s true values and lasting interests.”
Why I think this is an important statement. Sadly, @POTUS is duly elected. He quite literally speaks for us. This is a permanent stain. The only recourse is for Congress to renounce.
— David Terry (@davidgoterry) November 20, 2018
Thank you, Mr. Ryan. This is the correct response. As others have said, please continue investigating both regimes and their ties. This is a gross betrayal of democratic values.
— CriticalThinking (@BloomTaxonomy) November 20, 2018
— d_twit (@d_twit) November 20, 2018
I hope your paper will start treating this administration as an adversary. Time for the gloves to come OFF. The @washingtonpost saved the country before. Can you please save us again?
— Julie (@Manyakitty307) November 20, 2018