In public, President Trump has expressed concern over the disappearance of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi, while also emphasizing that Khashoggi isn’t a U.S. citizen and the monetary importance of the U.S. arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
In private, he’s not acting much different, The Washington Post reported.
According to administration officials and advisers who spoke to the Post, Trump has been scrambling to reiterate how important U.S.-Saudi relations are in private meetings this week. He’s stressed the kingdom’s investment in the U.S. arms deal and the potential threat of Saudi cutting off its petroleum supply to the U.S. if tested. He’s concerned that retaliation against the kingdom wouldn’t have much impact because it’s “too wealthy to ever be truly isolated,” in the Post’s words.
Trump has also privately floated Khashoggi’s citizenship status, suggesting he thinks the writer’s disappearance — and alleged murder by Saudi officials — isn’t an American problem, even though the columnist wrote for the Post and is a permanent resident of Virginia.
Nationals security adviser John Bolton and senior adviser Jared Kushner’s whispers have helped shape Trump’s reaction to the incident, with Kushner privately stressing that the Saudis are a crucial part of his Middle East peace plans.