Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire real estate investor who is one of President Trump’s closest confidants, apologized Wednesday after defending Saudi Arabia in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing and saying the United States has committed “equal or worse” atrocities.
Barrack’s remarks on Khashoggi, made Tuesday at a summit in Abu Dhabi organized by the Santa Monica-based Milken Institute think tank, were first reported by Dubai’s Gulf News.
“Whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal or worse to the atrocities in Saudi Arabia,” Barrack told the crowd at the Milken Institute’s MENA Summit, according to audio provided by Gulf News reporter Ed Clowes.
“The atrocities in any autocratic country are dictated by the rule of law,” Barrack continued. “So, for us to dictate what we think is the moral code there — when we have a young man [Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] and a regime that’s trying to push themselves into 2030 — I think is a mistake.”
In a statement Wednesday, Barrack called the murder of Khashoggi “atrocious” and “inexcusable” and apologized for “not making this clear in my comments earlier this week.”
But he appeared to suggest responsibility for the killing should not rest on Saudi leadership. [Continue reading…]