Friday brought the admission by Saudi Arabia that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was dead when they sent out an overnight statement claiming the dissident journalist was killed after a fist fight during his visit to the Saudi consulate in Turkey. That statement was initially met with acceptance by the White House, with President Donald Trump saying he believed their explanation was credible.
Needless to say, while the president seems willing to swallow whatever cover story the Saudis come up with, the whole ‘Khashoggi ran into a bone saw during an argument’ excuse was met with widespread skepticism and head-shaking. During the top of his CNN program Saturday morning, Michael Smerconish noted that while Trump seems to have specific reasons to believe the Saudis, this is an issue that has gone back decades.
“What does the Saudi royal family hold over American presidents?” Smerconish asked. “It’s as if we elect an American president, give them the Resolute Desk and the book of secrets, and in the latter, he learns he must assume fealty to the kingdom.”
Showing images of former President George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the CNN host said: “And the next thing you know, regardless of party, they’re holding hands with the king.”
Smerconish pointed out that Trump’s first foreign trip as president was to Saudi Arabia, wondering aloud why the kingdom has such sway over not just our presidency but America’s captains of industry.
Turning to the cover story, Smerconish highlighted that the Saudis’ acknowledgment of Khashoggi’s death was not only done as a Friday news dump in the States but timed so as to be released in the middle of the night in Riyadh. Going over the cover story, he stated that “it is just not credible” while hitting the White House for its “tepid” response.
“Here’s my question,” Smerconish declared. “Why are these our partners?”
He went on to bring up Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks, saying it was all quickly forgotten when Trump shredded the Iran Nuclear Deal and rushed to pick sides in the age-old sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shia. He also questioned why it would be in the United States’ best interests to get involved in this centuries-old dispute.
Watch the clip above, via CNN.