Turkey says Trump willing to turn blind eye to murder, calls Khashoggi remarks ‘comic’

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A senior Turkish official accused President Donald Trump of willing to overlook the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi to preserve Washington’s relationship with Riyadh. He also called Trump’s remarks about the incident “comic.”

Numan Kurtulmus, deputy chairman of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, told state broadcaster TRT Haber that Trump’s “Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t” description of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s potential role in the Washington Post columnist’s slaying was a “comic statement.”

“It is not possible for an intelligence agency such as the CIA, which even knows the color of the fur on the cat walking around the Saudi consulate’s garden … to not know who gave this order,” Kurtulmus said in remarks first reported by the Reuters news agency. “This is not credible either for U.S. public opinion or the world public opinion.”

In a statement published by the White House on Tuesday, Trump said the U.S. would remain a “steadfast partner” of Saudi Arabia and there was “nothing definitive” that connects Khashoggi’s killing inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to the crown prince.

Turkey has not produced evidence that directly links Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler to Khashoggi’s killing, but it claims the order to kill him came from the highest levels of Saudi Arabia’s government. Riyadh’s leadership has repeatedly denied involvement.

“Because it’s America first to me. It’s all about America first,” Trump said later Tuesday outside the White House after releasing his statement. “We’re not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders and let Russia, China and everybody else have them. It’s all about – for me, very simple, it’s America first,” he said.

More: ‘Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!’ Trump says US will stand by Saudis despite Khashoggi murder

More: ‘I bet you’d be on my side if I had killed a journalist’: Michelle Wolf claps back at Trump

More: President Trump thanks Saudis for lower oil prices, a day after he defended kingdom over Khashoggi murder

Trump, whose statement on Khashoggi angered U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, on Wednesday praised Saudi Arabia for helping to lower oil prices.

“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” he tweeted.

“I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn, said in a tweet.

“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. @SenBobCorker & I are triggering Magnitsky Act AGAIN to defend human rights & free press. Now Pres. Trump must SPECIFICALLY determine if Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman himself is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” tweeted Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

The Magnitsky Act was used recently to sanction 17 Saudi nationals accused of murdering the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The humanitarian group Amnesty International released a report this week that claimed that several Saudi Arabian activists, including a number of women, have been arbitrarily detained without charge since May. The organization reported that they have faced sexual harassment, torture and other forms of ill-treatment during interrogations.

“The activists were repeatedly tortured by electrocution and flogging, leaving some unable to walk or stand properly. In one reported instance, one of the activists was made to hang from the ceiling, and according to another testimony, one of the detained women was reportedly subjected to sexual harassment, by interrogators wearing face masks,” Amnesty said in its report. Most of the activists were detained for campaigning for Saudi Arabia to end a prohibition on female drivers, a ban that has since ended.

President Donald Trump defended his decision not to punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman or cut arms sales to Saudi Arabia for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. insisting it would be “foolish” to cut ties. (Nov. 20) AP

Source: USA Today

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