President Donald Trump has faced widespread and bipartisan criticism for siding with the Saudi Arabian royal family over the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, citing Saudi Arabian investments and the government’s claim that Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state.”
During an appearance on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom Friday morning, a former Trump administration State Department employee backed his former boss’s decision, dismissed Khashoggi’s journalism credentials, and blamed the Post for placing Khashoggi “in harm’s way.”
Asked if Trump taking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at his word that he wasn’t involved in Khashoggi’s murder was the right decision, ex-State Department senior adviser Christian Whiton said it was and we “just need to move beyond this at this point.” After noting how important the Saudi Arabian alliance is when it come to Iran, he tossed out some whataboutism by wondering why folks aren’t “up in arms” over Turkey’s treatment of journalists.
“This is a journalist who was victimized here,” co-host Julie Banderas stated. “It also says a lot about allowing these sort of human rights violations, atrocities, if you will, to continue with a country that, of course, we lean on very much so economically on Saudi Arabia.”
Responding to Banderas’ question on whether America needs Saudia Arabia more than they need the United States, Whiton said it was a “symbiotic relationship” before noting that the Saudis could go to the Chinese for military weapons. He then pivoted to Khashoggi and essentially saying he kinda go what was coming.
“One thing I would push back on against the conventional wisdom surrounding the case, this man, Jamal Khashoggi was a journalist,” Whiton declared. “He wasn’t really. He wasn’t a reporter. He was an opinion writer; he was an analyst. What got him killed, frankly, he was putting out — he was on the take from the Saudi government. He was eating at the trough. He was receiving Saudi largesse.”
Banderas interjected that Khashoggi was critical of the crown prince, causing Whiton to note that he went from a supporter to an opponent. He then said that the Post “has some culpability” because they put out his stuff about “how great the Muslim Brotherhood is,” adding that they “put him in harm’s way.”
Later in the interview, Banderas pointed out that Khashoggi was a journalist and explained that the Post has an opinion side and journalistic side, much like Fox News. Whiton claimed that he wasn’t saying that Khashoggi deserved what happened to him but it is “important to realize this gentleman was an Islamic activist.”
This isn’t the first time that Whiton has publicly brushed off outrage over the Khashoggi murder. Earlier this week on Lou Dobbs’ Fox Business program, Whiton claimed critics of the administration are shrieking “like it’s some freshman seminar in feminist literature at Smith College.” He also wrote a National Interest op-ed saying Trump was right on Saudi Arabia.
Watch the clip above, via Fox News.