U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday the United States would be “punishing” itself by halting military sales to Saudi Arabia even if it is proven that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul.
Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Riyadh and a U.S. resident, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the Saudi consulate. Turkey’s government believes he was deliberately killed inside the building and his body removed.
Trump has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and is under international and domestic pressure to help determine what happened to Khashoggi and punish Saudi Arabia if investigations show its government had him killed.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike have demanded firm action. There was already mounting concern over civilian deaths caused by a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen’s civil war and some lawmakers have said Washington should block military sales to Riyadh if the allegations over Khashoggi are proven.
But Trump is firmly opposed.
“I actually think we’d be punishing ourselves if we did that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“There are other things we can do that are very, very powerful, very strong and we’ll do them,” he added, without saying what those measures might be.
Under U.S. law, major foreign military sales can be blocked by Congress. An informal review process lets key lawmakers use a practice known as a “hold” to stall deals if they have concerns such as whether the weapons being supplied would be used to kill civilians.
Major U.S. defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and Raytheon Co (RTN.N), are among the beneficiaries of Washington’s close ties to Riyadh and would be hurt by the halting of major arms deals.
Trump said on Saturday his administration won a $110 billion military order from Saudi Arabia and that the deal, combined with Saudi commitments to invest heavily in the United States, was worth hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs.
“If they don’t buy it from us, they’re going to buy it from Russia or they’re going to buy it from China,” he said. “Think of that, $110 billion. All they’re going to do is give it to other countries, and I think that would be very foolish.”
VERBATIM: A big step in improving relations with Turkey
It was unclear what specific measures, if any, Trump is considering against Saudi Arabia, which is the world’s largest oil exporter, and one of his top allies.
The Trump administration plans to reimpose sanctions on oil exports from Iran on Nov. 5 and Trump has urged Saudi Arabia to boost oil output to help make up for the loss.
Trump said he would probably speak to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman over the weekend “because I think it’s appropriate for me to ask him what’s going on.”
Feds investigating whether Rudy Giuliani was a victim of foreign spy effort targeting Trump
President Donald Trump's defense attorney is not only a subject in a criminal investigation, but is also part of a counterintelligence probe into whether he was compromised by a foreign power, CNN reported Wednesday.
This is an investigation that goes far longer and back further than we realized and also that it’s much broader than we initially thought," CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Pérez reported.
"One of the things we’re getting a picture of, a better picture of is this involves not only Giuliani’s financial entanglements with allegedly corrupt Ukrainian figures but also counterintelligence angle is there to this and the idea that perhaps Rudy Giuliani and some of his business dealings were part of essentially an influence operation, a foreign influence operation with a target being the Trump White House," he reported.
Internet recoils at Trump’s latest ‘insane’ news conference: ‘Maybe this guy shouldn’t be president’
President Donald Trump ranted at length about the Kurds, military deployments overseas, Sen. Lindsey Graham and former President Barack Obama in a bizarre conversation with reporters in the White House.
The president met with the media Wednesday afternoon during a bilateral meeting with Italian president Sergio Mattarella, and he touched on a bewildering variety of topics -- much to the confusion of onlookers.
This is fucking insane.
This press conference is purpose-built to empower and delight every bad actor in the world.
Biden finally unloads on Trump for smearing his son: ‘Release your tax returns or shut up’
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Wednesday blasted President Donald Trump for an ongoing attack on his son Hunter.
At a press conference in Ohio, Biden was asked if he had done enough to stop his son from taking a retainer from a company in Ukraine.
But the former vice president insisted that "corruption" in Trump's government should be the immediate focus.
"He is running the most corrupt government in the history of the United States of America," Biden charged. "He is running the most corrupt government in the history of the United States of America."
Biden then turned to the camera as if he were speaking directly to Trump.