Trump Accepts Saudi Arabia’s Latest Story About Journalist Dying in a “Fistfight”

The president continues to ignore US intelligence.

Ron Sachs/CNP via ZUMA

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Saudi Arabia has again changed its official line on the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, marking its first admission since his October 2 disappearance that Khashoggi died in its consulate in Istanbul. The country’s new story, according to the Washington Post, is that Khashoggi was killed after a fistfight broke out in the consulate. Saudi Arabia also announced that it had made 18 arrests and fired five officials as a result of its initial investigation. For the last two weeks, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly insisted that Khashoggi had left its consulate before disappearing,

President Donald Trump, visiting a Luke Air Force base in Arizona on Friday, said, “I think it’s a good first step, it’s a big step. There’s a lot of people involved.” Asked if he accepts the new explanation offered by Saudi Arabia, Trump said, “I do,” adding that he would not want to see sanctions against the country, in order to maintain US arms sales.“Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable,” he added.

Throughout the past two weeks, Trump has opted to accept and repeat Saudi Arabia’s shifting explanations—ignoring US intelligence that the crown prince directed government agents to kill and dismember Khashoggi, who had been critical of the regime. A few days earlier, Trump had offered unsubstantiated speculation that “rogue killers” could be behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. 

Members of Trump’s party remain skeptical about Saudi Arabia’s evolving narrative. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted last night:

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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