Trump Says He Stands By MBS the Same Day Murdered Khashoggi Makes Time Person of the Year Cover

President Donald Trump sat down with Reuters’ White House reportersfor a robust Oval Office interview on the same day that the politically assassinated Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was featured on TIME’s Person of the Year issue.

Despite CIA findings that strongly suggest the Saudi Crown PrinceMohammed bin Salman was behind the murder, and a recently entered bipartisan Senate Resolution condemning MBS’s alleged role in Khashoggi’s death, Trump is standing by the burgeoning leader of the Saudi Royal family, close political ally and suspected business partner for the Trump family business.

Reuters journalists Roberta RamptonJeff Mason, and Steve Hollandsat with the Commander in Chief, and among the many news items to emerge is Trump’s steadfast support of MBS.

report with bylines of Rampton and Holland claimed: “Trump refused to comment on whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the murder, but he provided perhaps his most explicit show of support for the prince since Khashoggi’s death more than two months ago.”

Trump is quoted as defending his position, saying “He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally.”

The White House and State Department have shown consistent support of the Saudi leader despite political pressure from leaked CIA reports and Congressional leaders of both parties. The article reports that, when asked “if standing by the kingdom meant standing by”  the Crown Prince, Trump responded: “Well, at this moment, it certainly does.”

Reuters reporters followed by asking if Trump believes that his continued support is critical to MBS ascension to King, as some in the Saudi Royal family are reportedly “agitating to prevent MBS from becoming king, sources close to the royal court have told Reuters, and believe that the United States and Trump could play a determining role.”

Trump responded that he was unaware of that adding, “Honestly, I can’t comment on it because I had not heard that at all. In fact, if anything, I’ve heard that he’s very strongly in power.”

[Mediaite]

Saudi-Funded Lobbyists Paid For 500 Nights At Trump D.C. Hotel Right After Election

Saudi Arabia-funded lobbyists paid for rooms at President Donald Trump’s Washington hotel within a month of the 2016 presidential election and kept coming back, racking up more than 500 nights worth of rooms in three months, The Washington Post reported, citing documents and organizers of the stays.

The Saudi-backed organizers were putting up veterans who were offered a free trip to Washington to help lobby against a law that Saudi Arabia opposed, the Post reported.

(Read the full Washington Post story.)

The lobbyists at first were hosting veterans in northern Virginia, but switched to the Trump hotel in December 2016. One organizer said the move was because the Trump International Hotel offered a discount from the usual $768 a night rate, and denied it was to try to gain favor with Trump.

But some of the vets the Post interviewed said they felt like they were being used twice ― to lobby for Saudi Arabia, and then again to bring business to Trump.

“It made all the sense in the world, when we found out that the Saudis had paid for it,” said Navy veteran Henry Garcia. He went on three trips, and said that what made the Trump hotel trips different from trips with other veterans groups were the private rooms, open bars and free dinners.

“We’ve done hundreds of veterans events, and we’ve stayed in Holiday Inns and eaten Ritz Crackers and lemonade. And we’re staying in this hotel that costs $500 a night,” said Marine veteran Dan Cord.

Trump’s business interests are in the spotlight once again as the D.C. and Maryland attorneys general served subpoenas on the Trump Organization and a dozen related businesses on Wednesday, CNN reported.

The subpoenas are seeking business documents that may show foreign payments to the hotel.

The lawsuit alleges that Trump is profiting from foreign and state spending at his D.C. hotel, in violation of the Constitution’s ban on gifts from foreign governments. The Justice Department has signaled it may try to fight the evidence-gathering process.

Trump has defended the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, even after intelligence agencies fingered the prince in the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi royal family and its allies have spent tens of millions on Trump hotels and condos.

[Huffington Post]

Trump sent a love note to Kim Jong Un through South Korean president saying that he likes the dictator

According to a statement, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that President Donald Trump asked him to pass a note to North Korea’s dictator.

According to CNN’s Manu Raju, the note said, “President Trump has a very amicable view of Chairman Kim and that he likes Chairman Kim… As much that he wishes to implement the rest of the agreement with Chairman Kim and that he will make true what Chairman Kim wishes.”

Trump hasn’t managed to get Kim Jong Un to agree

During a Minnesota rally in June, Trump told the audience, their agreement outlines denuclearization.

“Sentence one says ‘a total denuclearization of North Korea,’” Trump said. “There will be denuclearization. So that’s the real story.”

While it may have been a huge applause line for Trump, it isn’t true.

“President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018,” the first sentence actually reads.

While it does deal with denuclearization, it doesn’t commit North Korea to anything.

“Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the official statement said.

Not long after, however, it gives the true mandate: “[T]he DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

In April, Kim agreed to suspend nuclear tests, though he said it was because they didn’t need them anymore.

In August, however, it revealed North Korea was still developing nuclear weapons, despite the agreement to “work” on things.

Trump announced that he and Kim would be meeting in 2019 to continue their “talks.” It’s unclear the point of the note for the dictator, but at least it reaffirmed his feelings for the so-called “Chairman.”

“He wrote me beautiful letters and we fell in love, OK?” Trump told a West Virginia audience. “No really. He wrote me beautiful letters.

[Raw Story]

Trump Organization planned to give $50 million penthouse to Putin amid Moscow deal

The Trump Organization planned to offer a $50 million penthouse suite to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid negotiations over a real estate deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to a report by BuzzFeed News. 

The bombshell report includes Felix Sater, a longtime Donald Trump associate accused of having Russian mafia ties, telling BuzzFeed News that he and Michael Cohen, the president’s former attorney and fixer, thought giving the suite to Putin could help sell other apartments.

“In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin,” Sater told BuzzFeed News. “My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.”

BuzzFeed notes other unnamed officials confirmed the existence of the plan and the officials said Cohen discussed the idea with a representative of Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary.

It’s unclear whether Trump was aware of the plan, which never came to fruition due to the Trump Tower deal in Russia falling through.

Sater, a Russian immigrant who spent a year in prison for a 1991 stabbing, told the news organization that Cohen, at the time, remarked that it was a “great idea.”

Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, declined to comment on the report when reached by USA TODAY. Rudy Giuliani, a lawyer for President Trump, said the story was “unknown to the president.”

Giuliani added the project was “too premature for anything like that” and called the idea to give Putin a suite “crazy.”

The revelations come at a time where the president’s Trump Tower deal in Moscow has come under intense scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is examining Russian interference in the 2016 election.

On Thursday, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to lying to Congress about the plan to build a Trump Tower in Russia all in the hope of shielding Trump from criticism.

Court documents filed as part of Cohen’s plea deal detailed Trump’s business dealings in Russia lasted longer during his campaign than previously acknowledged.

Federal prosecutors said Cohen lied when he submitted an Aug. 28, 2017, letter to the Senate and House intelligence committees. The letter said the project had ended by January 2016, when planning continued months longer during the presidential campaign.

Prosecutors said that Cohen lied to the committees to “minimize links between the Moscow Project and (Trump) and give the false impression that the Moscow Project ended before the Iowa caucus and the very first primary in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations.”

Sater, who had a large role in developing the Trump SoHo Hotel in New York, is also under scrutiny in Mueller’s investigation.

He wrote an email to Cohen in 2015 bragging about his ties to Putin, according to the New York Times. “Our boy can be president of the USA and we can engineer it,” Sater wrote in one of the emails. “I will get all of Putin’s team to buy in on this.”

The Times noted that Cohen never replied to the emails and viewed them as “puffery.” Sater, who spent a year in prison for stabbing a man and later scouted for Trump investments in Russia, said he was simply expressing “enthusiasm” for the Trump Organization.

[USA Today]

Trump disputes CIA findings in Khashoggi killing, says too much at stake to punish ally

Responding to questions about Saudi Arabia’s role in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that the U.S. can’t afford to punish foreign nations for killing people.

“Do people really want me to give up hundreds of thousands of jobs?” he said. “And frankly, if we went by this standard, we wouldn’t be able to have anybody who’s an ally, because look at what happens all over the world.”

NBC and other outlets have reported that the CIA recently determined, reportedly with “high confidence,” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey in early October.

Trump rejected that characterization in an exchange with reporters in Palm Beach, Fla., where he is spending the Thanksgiving holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort, but said the American relationship with Riyadh wouldn’t be affected even if the crown prince is responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

“Whether he did or whether he didn’t, he denies it vehemently,” Trump said. “The CIA doesn’t say they did it. They do point out certain things, and in pointing out those things, you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn’t.”

The aftermath of the killing bothered him, he said, but he argued the CIA gave him conflicting information about the act.

“I hate the cover-up. And I will tell you this, the crown prince hates it more than I do,” he said. “And they have vehemently deny it. The CIA points it both ways. As I said, maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But I will say very strongly that it’s a very important ally.”

By design, intelligence community analyses don’t reach conclusions. Instead, analysts provide evidence and a degree of confidence about their judgments, along with information about any uncertainties.

After Trump tweeted a statement of support for Saudi rulers Wednesday, Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan slammed Trump in an op-ed.

“A clear and dangerous message has been sent to tyrants around the world: Flash enough money in front of the president of the United States, and you can literally get away with murder,” Ryan wrote.

Pressed Thursday on whether his message to foreign leaders is that they can act with impunity, Trump said “no.”

“Not at all,” he said. ” Saudi Arabia has been a longtime strategic partner. They’re investing hundreds of billions of dollars in our country. I mean hundreds of billions. They’re keeping the oil prices low.”

The U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis does not report figures for Saudi Arabia’s direct investment in the U.S. to avoid revealing information about specific companies. While overall data is not available, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative reports that “Saudi Arabia’s direct investment in the U.S. is led by real estate, information services, and retail trade.”

Financial transactions between the two countries amounted to a negative number in 2017 — about $161 million in Riyadh’s favor — according to BEA.

Saudi Arabia spent about $9 billion on U.S. arms between 2013 and 2017, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, but Trump has said erroneously that Saudi rulers are ready to spend many multiples of that in the coming years — up to $450 billion in goods, including $110 billion in military equipment. Saudi Arabia’s annual gross domestic product has been below $700 billion in each of the last three years.

[NBC News]

Trump Thanks Saudi Arabia for…Making America Great Again With Lower Oil Prices?

After more or less excusing Saudi Arabia’s alleged murder of a journalist, President Trump is showing praise on them over lower gas prices.

In his first tweets of the day, Trump celebrated the fact that oil prices are falling on the market amid fears of a global slowdown in economic growth. In any case, he’s giving thanks to the Saudis over this news and finishing it off with “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” for good measure.

Trump’s tweets come a day after he released a statement declaring he will take Saudi Arabia’s side over the controversy of whether their royal family was directly involved in Jamal Khashoggi‘s gruesome murder in Turkey. Trump justified his decision by declaring “America first,”embraced Saudi Arabia’s smears of Khashoggi for being a political dissident, and he also ignored reported evidence collected by the intelligence community that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

[Mediaite]

Reality

We only get 10% of our imported oil from Saudi Arabia, which is already a fraction of the oil we generate ourselves.

OPEC has recently called for a drop in oil production because of a looming glut on the market and a fear that oil prices were going to fall lower. There are also links to the economy that a possible slow down in economic growth has been signaled by a drop in oil prices.

These are things that have nothing to do with the US government’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Trump, When Asked Why He Sided With Saudi Arabia Over CIA: ‘Because It’s America First!

President Donald Trump was asked by a reporter on Tuesday why he sided with Saudi Arabia over his own intelligence agencies regarding who is responsible for the murder or Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump issued a bizarre statement on Tuesday announcing the U.S. would stand by Saudi Arabia regardless of whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of the Washington Post writer in Turkey, as the CIA has reportedly concluded.

“It’s a shame, but it is what it is,” Trump told reporters as he made his way from Washington D.C. to his Mar-a-Lago resort for Thanksgiving.

“Why are you siding with Saudi Arabia over your own intelligence community?” a reporter asked.

“Because it’s America First,” Trump replied. “It’s all about American First. We’re not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders, and let Russia and China have them.”

(The Washington Post called Trump’s claims about the jobs and revenue created by Saudi investment in the U.S. a “fantasy” in their report on his statement.)

“We are with Saudi Arabia, we’re staying with Saudi Arabia,” Trump added.

Trump’s statement drew criticism for its apparent defense of Saudi Arabia’s actions and questioning of its leader’s culpability in the gruesome murder of a dissident who resided in the United States.

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump wrote in his statement. “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”

[Mediaite]

Trump says U.S. will stand by Saudi Arabia, despite CIA’s conclusion about Khashoggi killing

President Trump vowed to stand by Saudi Arabia, whatever the CIA concludes about the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mr. Trump released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying, “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”

He added, “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi…the United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

The CIA has intelligence substantiating an assessment that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s killing. The CIA’s assessment appeared to be largely based on the control held by bin Salman. In other words, the thinking is the murder could not have been carried out without the knowledge of bin Salman, often referred to by his initials, MBS.

A U.S. intelligence official says the president has been provided with the intelligence community’s assessment on the matter.

Mr. Trump conceded that the “crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone.” And he said the U.S. has taken “strong action” against alleged participants, pointing to the recent sanctions announced against 17 Saudis “known to have been involved.”

But he allowed that “representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.” However, he added, “[M]y decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.”

The president argued that the relationship with Saudi Arabia is vital to U.S. interests and national security and important to the U.S. economy. The president pointed to Iran as a force to be kept in check — and Saudi Arabia’s role in helping do that.

Mr. Trump also repeated assertions that the Kingdom agreed to spend $450 billion in the U.S., with $110 billion to be spent on military equipment from U.S. defense contractors.

“If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business,” the statement said. “It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!”

The president also said that he understood there were lawmakers in Congress “who would like to go in a different direction — and they are free to do so.” He said he would consider ideas presented to him, “but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America.”

On Saturday, the president had said his administration would release a “full report” on Khashoggi’s death in the next two days. But three days later, his administration has no details on what such a report will entail or when it would be released — or even confirmation that such a report exists.

[CBS News]

Trump Claims Report on North Korea’s Secret Missile Program ‘Inaccurate’: I’ll ‘Let You Know if Things Go Bad!’

Taking again to Twitter to bash The New York Times, President Donald Trump claimed without evidence that the outlet’s report that North Korea is secretly beefing up its ballistic missile program was false.

“The story in the New York Times concerning North Korea developing missile bases is inaccurate,” he said Tuesday about the Monday article. “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new – and nothing happening out of the normal. Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”

In its article, the Times used satellite images to reveal that the regime appeared to be “engaged in a great deception.”

“It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads,” the report read. “The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States.”

[Mediaite]

Trump Confirms Chilly Relations With European Allies: ‘Ridiculously Unfair to the United States’

President Donald Trump returned from a weekend in Paris that featured much less diplomacy than citizens have come to expect from meetings with world leaders. The presidential visit to France was in part planned as an observation for Veteran’s Day and the 100th anniversary of World War I.

Amid criticism for the Commander in Chief’s decision to skip a ceremony to honor fallen American soldiers buried at a French cemetery, Trump appears to be trying to change the narrative with some Monday morning Tweets that appear to confirm cooled relations between the United States and our closest European allies.

The president notably skipped the “Peace forum” and was reportedly angered by French President Emmanuel Macron‘s suggestion of a European Army designed to protect itself from the United States. Macron also publicly called out “nationalism,” a term the Trump has used quite frequently on the campaign trail in recent weeks.

But according to Trump’s tweets, the chillier relations are a result of his claim that the “U.S. must be treated fairly”:

[Mediaite]

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