At G20, Trump Continues to Excuse and Justify the Murder of Journalists

You may remember that there was quite a dust-up between Turkey and Saudi Arabia after the state-sponsored assignation and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Turkish president didn’t think it was appropriate to commit this kind of act in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Saudi crown prince didn’t like the  accusation of being a current-day Jeffrey Dahmer, but his denials of responsibility convinced exactly no one.

So, you might find it touching that President Trump could serve as a bridge between them—a reconciler-in-chief, if you will.

President Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman posed next to each other for a photo of world leaders on Friday at the Group of 20 summit in Japan, exchanging pleasantries in the process.

Trump and the crown prince could be seen making conversation and smiling as they stood next to each other for the “family photo” at the gathering of world leaders. Trump stood between the Saudi royal and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

This is a bit like seeing the adopted parents of one of Hannibal Lecter’s victims serve as the serial killer’s probation officer. After all, Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi national but he lived and worked in the United States. Trump wasn’t overly offended when Mohammad Bin Salman had him chopped into little pieces and barbecued in the the Saudi consul’s home, insisting repeatedly that it wasn’t worth making a fuss over if it might jeopardize weapon sales and certain investments:

The body of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was likely burned in a large oven at the Saudi consulate general’s residence in Istanbul, an Al Jazeera investigation revealed.

New details of the writer’s murder by a Saudi assassination team were reported in a documentary by Al Jazeera Arabic that aired on Sunday.

Turkish authorities monitored the burning of the outdoor furnace from outside the premises as bags believed to be containing Khashoggi’s body parts were transferred to the Saudi consul’s home after he was killed inside the consulate a few hundred metres away.

Al Jazeera interviewed a worker who constructed the furnace who stated it was built according to specifications from the Saudi consul. It had to be deep and withstand temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius – hot enough to melt metal.

Large quantities of barbeque meat were grilled in the oven after the killing in order to cover up the cremation of the Saudi writer’s body, Turkish authorities reported.

The burning of Khashoggi’s body took place over a period of three days, Turkish officials said.

Trump has been defending the killing of journalists since December 2015 when he sided with Vladimir Putin during an appearance on Joe Scarborough and Mike Brzezinski’s morning show. Back then he doubted the evidence against Putin and said that America kills a lot of people, too, which was a novel approach for a presidential candidate: “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader,” Trump replied. “Unlike what we have in this country.”

Nothing has changed.

Donald Trump joked with Vladimir Putin about getting rid of journalists and Russian meddling in US elections when the two leaders met at the G20 summit in Japan.

As they sat for photographs at the start of their first formal meeting in nearly a year, the US president lightheartedly sought common ground with Putin at the expense of the journalists around them in Osaka.

“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do,” Trump said.

To which Putin responded, in English: “We also have. It’s the same.”

Trump presumably meant that Putin doesn’t have the problem in Russia that he has in the United States because Putin kills journalists who report things he doesn’t like. This was what Trump had previously denied happened at all, but now he was having a little joke about it in front of the news media and the world. Now Trump was suggesting, half in jest, that he, too, could just “get rid of them.”

America needs to get out of its state of denial. We’re like parents who don’t want to admit that their son is a sociopath even after they find the bones in the basement and listen to his confession. We have a president who spends his time abroad chumming up to people like Mohammad Bin Salman and Vladimir Putin. He doesn’t condemn their crimes but rationalizes and even praises them.

We obviously don’t want to admit what is right in front of our eyes, but the evidence is conclusive. Our president is incapable of showing any moral leadership and actually sides with the world’s worst monsters.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com