Eric Trump and Fox News teamed up on Thursday to gaslight the public about the president’s financial stake in maintaining good relations with Saudi Arabia.
During an interview on Fox & Friends, Eric Trump tried to counter suspicions that his father’s soft response to the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of the Saudi regime stems from his family’s business relationships with Saudi Arabia.
“There’s zero investments in Saudi — we have absolutely nothing to do with [that country],” Trump said.
It's really nice of Fox & Friends to allow Eric Trump to knock down the "investments *in* Saudi Arabia" strawman.
Most of the reporting has been about the Saudis' documented investments in Trump properties in the US, and Trump's own prior statements to that effect. pic.twitter.com/eYfC5meUqL
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) October 18, 2018
But the Trump family’s financial stake in Saudi Arabia isn’t about investments in the country. Instead, it’s about investments Saudis have made in Trump properties.
As NBC details, in 2001, the Saudi government bought an entire floor in Trump World Tower for $4.5 million. Years before that, Trump sold a yacht to a Saudi prince for $20 million.
More recently, as the Washington Post reported in August, the Saudi regime has been pumping money directly into Trump’s pockets through his hotels.
“After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals [at the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan] went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018,” the Post reported. The increase was largely due to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s patronage of the hotel during a visit to New York City during which he and his entourage didn’t even end up staying there.
The Trump family hasn’t always been so reluctant to acknowledge their business dealings with the Saudis. The month after Trump launched his presidential campaign, he gave a speech in which he boasted that “likes the Saudis” because “I make a lot of money with them” — an admission that directly contradicts the claim he’s now making about having “no financial interests in Saudi Arabia.”
Here's the video of Trump at his July 2015 rally boasting he makes "a lot of money" to the tune of "hundreds of millions" of dollars selling things to the Saudis and Saudi Arabia. pic.twitter.com/QrjrnF4Hen
— 💀andrew👻kaczynski🎃 (@KFILE) October 16, 2018
But pressure has recently increased on the Trumps thanks to the disappearance of Khashoggi — a Saudi dissident, Washington Post columnist, and Virginia resident — who hasn’t been seen since he entered a Saudi consulate in Turkey on October 2.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed confidence on Thursday that the Saudis will conduct a fair investigation of a murder they’re widely suspected of committing.
“So, we’re all going to get to see the work product,” Pompeo said. “They made a personal commitment to me, and the crown prince also made a personal commitment to the president.”
REPORTER: Mr Secretary, why should Saudi Arabia be trusted to conduct a fair investigation of Khashoggi's death when they are suspected of murdering him?
POMPEO: "So, we're all going to get to see the work product… they made a personal commitment to me." pic.twitter.com/mnM0dsYzz4
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) October 18, 2018
Pompeo’s comments came a day after he admitted to reporters at the end of his trip to Saudi Arabia that both he and the regime “don’t want to talk about any of the facts” surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Despite the Saudi regime’s apparent responsibility for the murder, Trump has repeatedly downplayed it, citing Khashoggi’s non-citizen status and the fact that his disappearance occurred in a faraway country. On Monday, the president went as far as to suggest without any evidence that “rogue killers” may have actually been responsible for Khashoggi’s death.
Through Trump hasn’t acknowledged that his own financial interests play a role in his soft stance toward the Saudis, he has repeatedly dismissed the idea of imposing sanctions on Saudi Arabia by citing the fact the regime is spending billions of dollars on American military equipment — indicating that for him, the economic relationship is more important than human rights.