President Donald Trump on Tuesday listed plenty of reasons why the United States shouldn’t penalize Saudi Arabia for the alleged murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, further softening the ground after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded accountability for those who ordered and carried out Khashoggi’s killing.
Trump characterized Erdogan’s remarks as “pretty rough,” though he said “I haven’t gotten a full recap.”
Trump contrasted Saudi Arabia with Iran, which he said had done “vicious, horrible things,” and added: “That’s no excuse for what happened with Saudi Arabia. No excuse whatsoever. But you take a look, it’s a rough part of the world. It’s a nasty place. It a nasty part of the world.”
After saying he wanted “to see the facts first,” Trump defended the United States’ ties to the Saudi kingdom, falsely saying “they are doing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of investments and so many jobs, thousands and thousands of jobs.”
He added later: “I went to Saudi Arabia on the basis that they would buy hundreds of billions— many billions of dollars worth of things. And the ultimate number is around $450 billion. $110 billion for military. $450 billion. I think that’s over a million jobs, a million to— over a million jobs.”
Most of the billions in deals Trump mentioned are speculative and far from closed. Trump’s prediction that deals with Saudi Arabia will correspond to “over a million jobs” is also not credible.
Separately, Trump conceded that “from a certain standpoint, you could also say, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter, because it is a terrible thing.’”
“But,” he added, “we would be really hurting ourselves. We’d be hurting our companies. We’d be hurting our jobs. And so we’ll see what happens. But I should have a pretty good report very soon.”