How Trump Reacts When One of His Handlers is Caught Red-Handed

On Tuesday, Donald Trump released a statement about the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi embassy in Turkey. Speaking of those who were responsible, he wrote:

I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer, and when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes. They must serve as examples so that others will think long and hard before committing a crime or an act of violence. I want to hate these murderers and I always will. I am not looking to psychoanalyze or understand them, I’m looking to punish them. If the punishment is strong, the attacks on innocent people will stop…I no longer want to understand their anger. I want them to understand our anger. I want them to be afraid.

Oh wait. I substituted Trump’s rantings about the so-called “Central Park Five,” who were eventually exonerated, with his statement about the murder of Khashoggi. In his actual statement about that case, the president says that he’s not so sure that the man who has been identified as the one responsible for the killing is actually guilty.

King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. 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!

Here’s what the Washington Post reported on that topic four days ago:

The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The CIA’s assessment, in which officials have said they have high confidence, is the most definitive to date linking Mohammed to the operation…

And yet the president continues to suggest that “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Does that sound familiar? If so, it’s because he said something similar about Vladimir Putin during the press conference in Helsinki when asked about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election.

With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others, they said they think it’s Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server. But I have — I have confidence in both parties.

That is what Trump does when one of his handlers gets caught breaking the law. The puppet-master pulling the strings on that little dance is obvious.

The bigger picture here is that when five boys of color from New York are being railroaded into blame for a murder, Trump jumps on the bandwagon with calls for their execution before they even step foot in a court room. But when one of his pals is implicated in a gruesome murder, the president rejects all evidence of his guilt—throwing up his hands to say, “who knows?”

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .