Washington Post CEO and Publisher Fred Ryan called on Congress to take action over the killing of Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi after President Trump issued a statement Tuesday highlighting arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the country’s importance to the oil trade.
“An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights,” Ryan wrote. “In this failure of leadership from President Trump, it now falls to Congress to stand up for America’s true values and lasting interests.”
The CIA has reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month. Trump, in a somewhat unusual statement that begins with the sentence “The world is a very dangerous place!” implicitly questioned that assessment and pointed to misdeeds by Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.
“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” Trump said. “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 also announced Saudi plans to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States, including $110 billion on arms, and the country’s role in fighting terrorism and supplying the world with petroleum.
“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world,” he said. “They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world.”
As Trump points out in his statement, the U.S. has sanctioned 17 Saudis allegedly linked to Khashoggi’s killing. Saudi’s chief prosecutor has also said he’s seeking the death penalty for five people allegedly involved in the killing, with 11 people charged altogether.