Trump Accepts Saudi Arabia’s Latest Story About Journalist Dying in a “Fistfight”

The president continues to ignore US intelligence.

Ron Sachs/CNP via ZUMA

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Saudi Arabia has again changed its official line on the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, marking its first admission since his October 2 disappearance that Khashoggi died in its consulate in Istanbul. The country’s new story, according to the Washington Post, is that Khashoggi was killed after a fistfight broke out in the consulate. Saudi Arabia also announced that it had made 18 arrests and fired five officials as a result of its initial investigation. For the last two weeks, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly insisted that Khashoggi had left its consulate before disappearing,

President Donald Trump, visiting a Luke Air Force base in Arizona on Friday, said, “I think it’s a good first step, it’s a big step. There’s a lot of people involved.” Asked if he accepts the new explanation offered by Saudi Arabia, Trump said, “I do,” adding that he would not want to see sanctions against the country, in order to maintain US arms sales.“Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable,” he added.

Throughout the past two weeks, Trump has opted to accept and repeat Saudi Arabia’s shifting explanations—ignoring US intelligence that the crown prince directed government agents to kill and dismember Khashoggi, who had been critical of the regime. A few days earlier, Trump had offered unsubstantiated speculation that “rogue killers” could be behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

Members of Trump’s party remain skeptical about Saudi Arabia’s evolving narrative. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted last night:

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate