In case it wasn’t clear enough already (and it most assuredly was), Donald Trump is going to go out of his way to avoid jeopardizing America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia as political pressure mounts on the U.S. to punish the Saudis for the disappearance of dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
Early Monday, Bloomberg reported that King Salman ordered a Saudi public prosecutor to investigate what happened to Khashoggi. Apparently, that investigation will be undertaken with the “help” of Turkish intelligence.
I don’t know whether this is just an anomalous instance of cloak-and-dagger tactics gone horribly awry or whether it’s emblematic of what I’ve variously described as the “Austin Powers world“, but whatever the case, this is surely one of the most absurdly transparent conspiracies in the history of geopolitical conspiracies.
At this point, there is no question that Mohammed bin Salman was behind Khashoggi’s disappearance (U.S. intelligence intercepts detailed by the Washington Post confirm the U.S. was aware of the Crown Prince’s plan to “lure” Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia with a mind towards capturing him). And according to Turkish intelligence (as widely documented by every media outlet on the planet), there is no question that Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by the 15 guys shown in the following video:
Simply put, everybody (including the public) knows what happened here.
The idea that Turkey is now “assisting” the Saudis in investigating themselves for a crime that Turkey has already solved is patently ridiculous and the fact that Donald Trump has repeatedly said he will not cancel a $110 billion arms deal even if the Saudis admitted to butchering Khashoggi means America is just wasting taxpayer money by flying Mike Pompeo to Riyadh.
But apparently, everyone is going to try and pretend like the public (and U.S. lawmakers, by the way), don’t know what happened, because Pompeo is en route to Saudi Arabia right now and, while speaking to reporters in the pouring rain en route to Florida, Trump tried to float a “rogue killers” theory to explain Khashoggi’s assumed death. Watch this:
Got that? Here it is again:
I don’t want to get into [King Salman’s] mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon.
The English language is not a sufficient tool to convey how over-the-top farcical this has become. “Who knows?” Everybody knows, that’s “who.”
Just to recap:
- The Saudis would have you believe they’re going to investigate Mohammed bin Salman (which is like the Kremlin saying they’re going to investigate Putin, only if Putin were a literal royal).
- Turkey would have you believe they’re assisting with that investigation despite the fact that according to Turkish intelligence, there’s nothing to investigate.
- And Donald Trump would have you believe he’s really trying to get to the bottom of this and will dole out severe punishment despite being in possession of actual intelligence intercepts that implicate bin Salman and despite having already said (on 60 Minutes no less), that he won’t cancel the arms deal.
Full coverage of Khashoggi disappearance