The news is startling at best, horrifying at worst. The “President” of the United States is callous, turning the good ol’ US of A into the United States of Assassination. Around the world, dangerous leaders are acting with impunity, permitted to do whatever that want, so long as they pay the United States for weapons or send us their oil, in a way that personally enriches Donald Trump.
Bill Kristol, a conservative pundit who has increasingly become alarmed by Trump, tweeted this afternoon: “Putin’s killing people in the U.K., the Chinese regime has created a massive Uighur gulag, and the Saudis have murdered a journalist who was living here. None seems to fear serious consequences from the Trump administration, as the world becomes a darker and more dangerous place.”
Kristol is right here. Evidence strongly suggests that Jamal Khashoggi did not exit the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, and was instead murdered there. Turkish officials and intelligence claim to have audio and video evidence that Khashoggi, a resident of Virginia, was tortured and potentially cut up with a saw. The murder of Khashoggi apparently was pursuant to orders of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who Jared Kushner spoke with the day before Khashoggi’s disappearance. The administration is alleged to also have intercepted messages about the plans and did nothing.
Today, in an astonishing show of crassness, classlessness, and callousness, Trump stated that the murder if it happened took place in Turkey, not the United States, and involved a resident rather than a citizen. Trump then stated: “We don’t like it, and we don’t like it even a little bit. But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they have four or five alternatives, two of them very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me … We have jobs. We have a country that’s doing probably better economically than it’s ever done before. Part of that is what we are doing with our defense systems and everybody is wanting them and frankly, I think that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country.”
The United States of Assassination – are we willing to aid and abet dangerous people for a few bucks? Selling them our weapons that they may turn on us? At what cost? The United States, creating “a darker and more dangerous place.”
Daniel Cotter is a lawyer writing and teaching about SCOTUS, and married father of two boys living in Chicago, Illinois.