President Trump defied his intelligence agencies and ample circumstantial evidence to declare his unswerving loyalty to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, asserting that the crown prince’s culpability for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi might never be known.
In a remarkable statement that appeared calculated to end the debate over the American response to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, Mr. Trump said, “It could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” the president continued. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Still, in its 631 words in eight paragraphs, punctuated by seven exclamation points and a casual style that sounded like Mr. Trump’s off-the-cuff musings, the statement was a cogent summary of the Trump worldview: remorselessly transactional, heedless of allies, determined to put America’s interests first and founded on a theory of moral equivalence. [Continue reading…]