GOP lawmaker breaks with Trump over Saudi golf tournament: These golfers 'sold their souls'
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) speaks at a news conference about the National Defense Authorization Bill at the U.S. Capitol on September 22, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/AFP)

On Wednesday, a key congressional ally of former President Donald Trump broke with him over the legitimacy of the Saudi-sponsored golf tournament he is hosting on his Trump National Bedminster property in New Jersey.

The argument came after Nick Adams, a pro-Trump social media influencer, took to Twitter to complain that the golfers participating in the tournament weren't getting top billing. "I really have no interest in the PGA Tour FedEx Cup Playoffs without the top LIV Tour golfers being included," he wrote. "Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Jason Kokrak should ALL be playing."

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), however, disagreed.

"I have no interest in watching these guys play after selling their souls to the highest bidder when that bidder is a foreign country known to have financed 9-11 and other terrorist activity," wrote Roy. "But whatever… somehow this is MAGA or something."

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Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in the coordinated attacks on New York and Washington were Saudi nationals. An FBI memo released last year hinted at official Saudi involvement.

Trump himself claimed in 2016 while he was running for president that Saudi Arabia was responsible, without providing any evidence.

"(Now) he chooses to host the kingdom at his course in the backyard where 750 people were blown away," said Brett Eagleson, who was 15 when his dad died in the rubble of the World Trade Center, referencing the number of New Jersey residents killed on 9/11.

"It's incredibly infuriating," he said.

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Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, LIV has sought to lure top golfers from the establishment PGA and DP World tours with contracts that have run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Human Rights groups say the venture is a "sportswashing" exercise being used to boost Saudi Arabia's international reputation. Organizers insist their intention is to boost golf's popularity worldwide.

Trump has come under heavy criticism, particularly from the families of 9/11 victims, for agreeing to host the Saudi-backed golf tournament, with many openly protesting the tournament.

For Tim Frolich, who was injured on 9/11, the tournament has reopened old wounds.

"I had trouble sleeping last night, just the anger," the 58-year-old told AFP.

Trump, for his part, has defended Saudi Arabia's involvement in the tournament, claiming to reporters that "nobody's gotten to the bottom of 9/11."

With additional reporting by AFP