Why Donald Trump would rather not know who killed Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Even with Donald Trump’s most recent stance on Jamal Khashoggi's death, calling it “the worst cover-up ever”, the US president remains hesitant to point fingers at the Saudi crown prince. This is hardly surprising, given the president’s political and economic investment in the Saudi-American alliance. There are other reasons as well.
From doubting Barack Obama’s birthplace to authorising a sweeping child detention policy that targeted immigrant families, it’s clear that Trump only truly values American citizenship. After Jamal Khashoggi was reported missing, a presidential tweet called him ‘our Saudi Arabian citizen’.”
By raising the matter of Khashoggi's citizenship, Trump intended to raise doubts about whether he is someone worth spending capital on. It was a dog whistle to his base. It's the same reason he does not want to know why a mother separated from her child at the border would leave her home in the first place: not our citizen, not our problem.
Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened “to our Saudi Arabian citizen.” He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 15, 2018
Another reason Trump doesn’t care who killed Khashoggi may be his status as a Muslim journalist. Trump relies on the distortion of Islam as a useful prop, never wavering at an opportunity to portray the faith as an existential threat to the culture of the West.
But Trump’s undisguised nationalism, calculated Islamophobia and protracted war on journalism are not nearly as significant as the highly publicised US$110 billion weapons deal struck with Saudi Arabia. Even if the president could bring himself to acknowledge that Khashoggi was a fine journalist and deserving of human rights, a transparent investigation into his death is simply not worth the price tag.
Somehow we have arrived at a place where the freedom of the press is less important than covering up the crimes of a theocratic mafia. Somehow international law has become less important than signing off on missile contracts resulting in the obliteration of Yemeni school buses.
George Cassidy Payne, Rochester, New York