Did Donald Trump greenlight the murder of Jamal Khashoggi? We don’t know, but the circumstantial evidence that he may indeed have done so is quite compelling. Certainly, if true, it makes Trump an accessory to murder. While we know of no other instance of Donald Trump allegedly involving himself in murder, persons with much smaller criminal resumes than Trump have turned out to be killers. But let’s examine the evidence.
First, there is Trump’s proven track record of recklessly endangering the lives of people he dislikes. Recall the times at rallies when he encouraged the crowd to “rough up” protestors, even offering to pay their legal fees. And despite exhortations from both political parties for him to desist, Trump stubbornly continues to invoke the incendiary hate speech phrase “enemy of the people” against the Constitutionally provisioned American free press. In so doing he has put at risk the lives of many journalists. Trump’s contempt for the lives, welfare and safety of people he regards as enemies is well-established.
Next, the Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (or MbS), a known friend of Trump and his business empire, has been strongly implicated in Khashoggi’s murder. Khashoggi, after all, has been a journalistic thorn in MbS’s side for many years. That MbS is guilty of ordering that murder has been established virtually beyond doubt. Dependent as the Saudis are on the United States as an ally, it’s hard to believe he didn’t consult Trump first before murdering Khashoggi. And Trump is virtually alone in the American government in disputing the Crown Prince’s culpability.
Then there’s the fact that Khashoggi was employed by the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, a man Trump hates and frequently lampoons via Twitter as “Jeff Bozo.”
Finally there’s Khashoggi himself, a dark skinned devout Muslim, columnist for the Washington Post, the very quintessence of the kind of person Donald Trump hates and has spent his entire political life demonizing.
It is therefore perfectly reasonable that MbS spoke of his storied disaffection with Jamal Khashoggi to Donald Trump, and perhaps using the ambiguous language of euphemism, got Trump to promise there would be no consequences for arranging an “accident.” Certainly there have been no consequences. Trump has seen to that. If it can be proved that Trump is culpable in Khashoggi’s murder, Donald Trump’s troubles may turn out to be much worse than we have guessed.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.