Trump: Saudi Arabia has ‘been a great ally to me’

President Trump on Tuesday said Saudi Arabia has “been a great ally to me” amid an international diplomatic crisis over allegations that Saudi agents killed a U.S.-based Saudi journalist in Istanbul.

Trump told Fox Business Network’s Trish Regan that the U.S. response to Saudi Arabia’s involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance will depend on “whether or not they knew about it.”

“Saudi Arabia’s our partner, our ally against Iran,” he said. “They’ve been a great ally to me.”

“They’re investing tremendous amounts of money,” he added, referring to America’s $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi kingdom.

Trump earlier in the day denied having any financial interests in Saudi Arabia, pushing back on speculation that he is treading lightly with the Saudis over Khashoggi because of his financial conflicts of interest.

The president, a longtime business mogul, has long-standing and close business ties to the Saudis, with Saudi businessmen spending significant amounts of money at his hotels and properties over decades.

One Saudi royal billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, purchased Trump’s yacht and a stake in New York’s Plaza Hotel in the 1990s when Trump was in financial distress.

Trump’s business ties to the kingdom have come under intense scrutiny in recent days as Trump has repeated Saudi leadership’s denials of involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Turkish authorities say Saudi agents killed and dismembered the Washington Post journalist in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate.

Trump, after praising Saudi Arabia during the Fox Business interview, added, “With all of that being said, you can’t do what we’ve been reading about. We’re gonna learn a lot about it.”

He then discussed the $110 billion arms deal, saying if the U.S. doesn’t give the weapons to Saudi Arabia, the country will turn to “Russia or China.”

“Aren’t we just hurting our own country?” he asked, responding to critics who have said he should end the arms deal. “Because here’s what’s going to happen — [they’ll] buy them from China, buy them from Russia.”

“We’re not really hurting them, we’re hurting ourselves,” he added. “I don’t want to give up a $110 billion order.”

[The Hill]

Trump: Saudi Journalist Could Have Been Murdered By ‘Rogue Killers’

President Donald Trump spoke out on Monday about his call with the Saudi King to discuss allegations his government killed and dismembered Washington Post writer and dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn Monday, Trump repeatedly noted Saudi Arabia’s denial of alleged killing was “very strong,” even adding that Khashoggi could have been murdered by “rogue killers.”

“I just spoke with the King of Saudi Arabia, who denies any knowledge with what took place,” Trump said. “And he firmly denies that.”

Trump added that he has sent Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi King Salman.

“The king firmly denied any knowledge of it, he didn’t really know, maybe, I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers,” Trump said. “Who knows, we’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.”

“He told me in a very firm way that they had no knowledge of it,” Trump continued. “He said it very strongly.”

“His denial to me could not have been stronger,” Trump added.

Turkish officials say they have proof that Khashoggi — missing since he entered the Saudi consulate on October 2 — was murdered by a team of Saudi agents. Trump has repeatedly stressed that the Saudis vehemently deny their involvement in his disappearance. In a tweet on Monday morning, he emphasized that U.S. resident Khashoggi is a “Saudi citizen,” and that King Salman “denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened.”

The disappearance and possible murder of Khashoggi poses a problem for Trump administration attempts to build a closer relationship with Saudi Arabia, notably through Jared Kushner‘s relationship with young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump & Saudi Business:
•1991: Sold yacht to Saudi Prince
•2001: Sold 45th floor of Trump World Tower to Saudis
•Jun 2015: I love the Saudis…many in Trump Tower
•Aug 2015: “They buy apartments from me…Spend $40M-$50M”
•2017: Saudi lobbyists spent $270K at Trump DC hotel

Trump Snaps at Leslie Stahl After She Reads Resume of Kim Jong Un Atrocities: ‘I’m Not a Baby, I Know These Things’

In an interview that aired Sunday night on 60 Minutes, President Donald Trump snapped at CBS News’ Lesley Stahl after she read a resume of atrocities committed by North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

“He presides over a cruel kingdom of repression, gulags, starvation. Reports that he had his half-brother assassinated. Slave labor. Public executions. This is a guy you love?” Stahl asked.

“I’m not a baby. I know these things,” Trump snapped before going on to explain that he gets along with him and saying he loved him is just a “figure of speech.”

Then after Stahl pointed Kim was a “bad guy,” Trump said this:  “Let it be whatever it is. I get along with him really well. I have a good energy with him. I have a good chemistry with him. Look at the horrible threats that were made. No more threats. No more threats.”

In another part of the interview, he also called political people “babies.”

[Mediaite]

Trump On Trade Wars With China, U.S. Allies: ‘We’ve Been the Stupid Country for So Many Years’

During his broad-ranging interview with 60 Minutes, President Trump said America has been a “stupid country” in the past, while also defending his approach to international economics and foreign policy.

Lesley Stahl pressed Trump on his escalating trade wars with China and their retaliation across multiple markets. Trump disputed her “trade war” characterization and that eventually led to a chat on the Trump Administration’s tariffs against American allies.

“I mean, what’s an ally?” Trump said. “We have wonderful relationships with a lot of people. But nobody treats us much worse than the European Union.”

Stahl continued to ask about this “hostile” approach, and whether Trump would consider dissolving the western alliance under NATO.

“We’ve been the stupid country for so many years,” Trump said. “We shouldn’t be paying almost the entire cost of NATO to protect Europe, and then on top of that, they take advantage of us on trade.”

[Mediaite]

Trump’s Not Gonna Let a Little Murder Get in the Way of His $110 Billion Arms Deal

new report in The Washington Post, citing U.S. intelligence intercepts, appears to confirm what is looking increasingly likely: that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered the operation to lure journalist Jamal Khashoggi from his home in Virginia to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, and had him murdered. Turkish security officials told The New York Times that they believe he was “dismembered . . . with a bone saw” by a 15-person team, dispatched from Saudi Arabia to make the vociferous critic of Salman’s government disappear. It is, in other words, not a good look for the so-called “reformer” prince, whose country has denied killing Khashoggi, but is not trying particularly hard to be convincing. Nor is it a good look for Donald Trump and Jared Kushner, who don’t seem eager to terminate a chummy relationship with the crown prince over a credible murder allegation. At least not just yet.

For those who need a quick refresher on the Kushner-M.B.S. bromance, the two first bonded over lunch at the White House back in March 2017, with the Boy Prince of New Jersey subsequently persuading his father-in-law to visit Riyadh for his first trip abroad as president. From there, it was basically a buddy comedy for the ages, with Kushner championing M.B.S. when the young prince was battling with his cousin to become his father’s heir; supporting his move to blockade Qatar and tacitly supporting his brutal war in Yemen; having back-slapping dinners with the prince in D.C. and the Saudi capital; and reportedly giving M.B.S. the names of disloyal Saudi royals who were later rounded up and imprisoned (Kushner denies this). Perhaps most significant, the two struck a deal for a $110 billion weapons sale—not a bad inducement if you’re trying to get the future king’s blessing for your Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Salman’s financial ties to Trump run deep, too. In March, the prince’s entourage almost single-handedly boosted revenue at Trump’s New York hotel by 13 percent. Presumably, Kushner and M.B.S. had discussed plans to get a boys trip on the calendar in between work and family commitments.

So the news that Saudi Arabia likely murdered a journalist who spoke critically of the crown prince’s regime has put Kushner in, as the Times puts it, an “extremely awkward position”! At first, Kushner and the White House chose to stay silent on the matter, like friends of Brett Kavanaugh refusing to dignify allegations of their pal being a fall-down drunk with a sexual-predator problem. But as the evidence kept piling up, it was clear they had to at least feign some level of concern, which apparently involved calling up M.B.S. and being like, “Hey, did you kill this guy? Nope? O.K., works for us!”

On Tuesday, the White House said, Mr. Kushner and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, spoke to Prince Mohammed by phone about Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also called him.

“In both calls, they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process,” said the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Meanwhile, Kushner’s father-in-law suggested Wednesday night that he thought the Saudis probably didkill Khashoggi, expressing less anger about the situation than he did when Nordstrom dropped his daughters’s clothing line. “It would not be a positive,” he told Fox News. “I would not be happy at all.” But while the smallest perceived slights generally result in the president vowing to destroy another country—for instance, threatening to economically cripple Ecuador for promoting breastfeeding—he apparently sees no reason to stop doing business with the kingdom:

. . . The president expressed reluctance to punish Saudi Arabia by cutting off arms sales, as some in Washington were proposing. “I think that would be hurting us,” he said. “We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country.”

Also on Thursday, Trump made his disregard for Khashoggi’s death even more obvious, telling reporters: “Again, this took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge Khashoggi is not a U.S. citizen, is that right? He’s a permanent resident, O.K. . . . As to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country . . . that would not be acceptable to me.” Incidentally, many say the deal is not worth anywhere near $110 billion, though accuracy has never been the president’s forte (that would be cozying up to autocrats who flout democratic values and human rights).

[Vanity Fair]

Trump: I told Saudi king he wouldn’t last without U.S. support

President Donald Trump made an undiplomatic remark about close ally Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, saying he warned Saudi Arabia’s King Salman he would not last in power “for two weeks” without the backing of the U.S. military.

“We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they’re rich. And I love the King, King Salman. But I said ‘King – we’re protecting you – you might not be there for two weeks without us – you have to pay for your military,'” Trump said to cheers at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi.

Trump did not say when he made those remarks to the Saudi monarch.

Despite the harsh words, the Trump administration has had a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, which it views as a bulwark against Iran’s ambitions in the region.

Trump made Saudi Arabia his first stop on his maiden international trip as president last year.

Trump called King Salman on Saturday and they discussed efforts being made to maintain supplies to ensure oil market stability and global economic growth, according to Saudi state news agency SPA.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s top oil exporter and the de facto leader of OPEC, which has been criticized by Trump for high oil prices.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last month, Trump said OPEC members were “as usual ripping off the rest of the world.”

“We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good. We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices,” Trump said.

[Reuters]

Trump administration halts visas for same-sex partners of diplomats, UN employees

President Donald Trump’s administration began denying visas to the unmarried, same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and officials and employees of the United Nations this week — making marriage a requirement to be eligible for a visa.

The policy was made effective Monday.

It comes despite the fact that the majority of countries do not recognize same-sex marriage and many same-sex couples face prosecution in their own countries.

The shift was detailed in a memo circulated at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York last month but unveiled in July, according to the State Department.

The policy shift gives the same-sex partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. workers until the end of the year to get married or leave the country.

The State Department said in a briefing Tuesday that the policy will affect about 105 families in the USA, 55 of which have links to various international organizations. It was not clear how many foreign diplomats and U.N. employees with pending U.S. posts will be affected by the policy change.

Twelve percent of the 193 U.N. member states represented in New York allow same-sex marriage, according to Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who served under President Barack Obama.

The Trump administration said the new policy is more consistent with the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that legalized same-sex marriage. The heterosexual partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. employees are also not eligible for U.S. visas.

Critics of the move argued the policy would create hardship for gay couples from countries that ban same-sex marriage or offer only civil unions. Those who marry in the USA to secure their visa status could face criminal proceedings once they return to their home nations.

“Those not yet in the country will need to show they’re married to secure a visa, potentially forcing those living in countries without marriage equality to choose between a posting at UN headquarters or family separation,” Akshaya Kumar, deputy U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, wrote in a blog post.

UN Globe, which advocates for non-discrimination of LGBTI staff at the United Nations and in its peacekeeping operations, said it was an “unfortunate change in rules, since same-sex couples, unlike opposite-sex couples, have limited choices when it comes to marriage.”

Power, the former ambassador, described the policy in a tweet as “needlessly cruel and bigoted.” The State Department said the rule change would promote equal treatment. It said it recognized that not all countries permit same-sex marriage and it was prepared to work with individual cases to find a solution for those not able to marry.

[USA Today]

Trump Says He and Kim Jong Un ‘Fell in Love’

Donald Trump has been fawning, to some degree or other, over Kim Jong Un ever since he met with the North Korean dictator back in June: praising him for being such a “strong head” of his regime, bragging about their “very good relationship,” and gushing about how much they “like each other.”

But over the weekend, the president suggested their bond goes even deeper than that—which is to say that the two of them “fell in love.”

According to the Associated Press, Trump devoted a good chunk of his rally in West Virginia on Saturday to discussing his special connection with Kim, at one point screaming “I like him, he likes me!” before going on to explain just how close they’ve grown since their summit in Singapore.

“When I did it—and I was really being tough, and so was he, and we would go back and forth—and then we fell in love,” Trump said. “OK? No, really. He wrote me beautiful letters. And they’re great letters. We fell in love.”

The comment seemed to be a reference to a note Kim sent Trump back in July, in which the despot addressed Trump as “Your Excellency”—a correspondence so nice, Trump ignored the fact that North Korea had reportedly begun developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the US. It’s just one example of how Kim hasn’t followed through on plans for nuclear deescalation, but Trump has kept on singing his praises anyway, moving right along with plans to meet with Kim for a second summit.

In his time as North Korea’s leader, Kim has reportedly executed hundreds of people, allegedly had his own half-brother assassinated, and detained tens of thousands of political dissidents in prison

—among many other atrocities. But somehow, that hasn’t stopped Trump from turning their bromance into a campaign talking point in the Heartland.

[Vice]

Trump ‘went off’ on French president during face-to-face meeting

US President Donald Trump was “ranting and venting on trade” to French President Emmanuel Macron during their bilateral meeting Monday evening, according to a senior diplomatic source.

Trump lambasted the European Union for its trade policies, saying it was worse than China — a complaint that the US president made to his French counterpart in an April meeting at the White House.

The source described Trump as “going off” on EU trade during his meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Trump said that the EU had to open up on agriculture — a continued point of contention in trade negotiations between the two entities. Macron was respectful to Trump and pushed back some on the topic but moved the conversation forward, the source said.

There was “some rapport” between the two, “but it’s not what it (once) was,” the source said.

Trump and Macron also talked about Iran and North Korea, during which Trump expressed his views in what the source described as “very predictable terms.”

The next day, Macron delivered a pointed rebuke to Trump in his speech at the UN General Assembly, both directly and implicitly criticizing the administration for its policies on Iran, climate change, the UN, migration and Mideast peace.

Macron began by telling the assembly that the world order based on sovereignty and equality among nations that came into being in the 1600s was facing a “far-reaching crisis,” and said the answer lay in cooperation and collaboration among nations.

“Nationalism always leads to defeat,” said Macron, who couched his remarks in the historical context of Europe’s world wars. “If courage is lacking in the defense of fundamental principles, international order becomes fragile and this can lead as we have already seen twice, to global war. We saw that with our very own eyes.”

On trade, Macron declared, “bilateral agreements, new protectionisms, will not work.”

The French President has made no secret of his disagreements with the US President. In April, during Macron’s first state visit as president to the US, he contradicted Trump on several fronts in a speech before Congress.

“There is no planet B,” Macron told lawmakers, referring to Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

Macron’s visit to the White House in April also included efforts to persuade Trump to save the Iran deal, which the US President ultimately announced his intention to withdraw from in May.

Before the cracks started to appear in their relationship, Macron had been dubbed by some observers as the “Trump whisperer,” after the two appeared to form a close bond during Trump’s visit to Paris last year.

[CNN]

Trump Didn’t Have A Meeting Scheduled With Trudeau — But He Canceled It Anyway

President Donald Trump claimed he snubbed a meeting request from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the United Nations this week. “I’ve told him forget about it,” Trump remarked Wednesday during a news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Canada, however, was quick to cry foul. No such meeting was ever requested, a Trudeau spokesman told CNN, adding: “We do not have any comment beyond that.”

The back and forth about the supposed meeting comes amid the U.S. and Canada’s acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, and follows months of souring relations between the two North American neighbors.

Speaking at the news conference, Trump alleged he refused a “one-on-one meeting” with Trudeau because of Canada’s high dairy tariffs and poor “negotiating style.” He also took a shot at Canada’s “representative” in the NAFTA negotiations, an apparent reference to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who has been leading Canada’s negotiations with the U.S.

Trudeau’s “tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him forget about it, and frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada,” Trump said. “That’s the mother lode. That’s the big one.”

He added: “We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much.”

Trudeau and Trump were captured on camera briefly shaking hands on Tuesday during a luncheon for world leaders.

Trudeau, who was standing, tapped Trump’s shoulder to greet him. The U.S. president stayed seated as he extended his hand for a cursory handshake. Trump’s decision to stay seated during the exchange has been described as a snub and as showing a lack of diplomatic etiquette.

Trump and Trudeau share a rocky history. In June, after the G7 summit, Trudeau told reporters that Canada would retaliate with tariffs of its own following the imposition of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.

In response, Trump lambasted the prime minister on Twitter as being “very dishonest & weak.”

The U.S. has suggested it will forge a new NAFTA deal with just Mexico if it fails to reach an accord with its northern neighbor.

NAFTA, a trilateral trade pact comprising the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has been in force since 1994.

[Huffington Post]

1 2 3 24