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Chris Murphy concerned Trump is ‘soft’ on Saudis due to business ties

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Chris Murphy
Democratic
Sen. Chris Murphy on Wednesday ripped into President Donald
Trump’s response to the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal
Khashoggi.

Kevin
Lamarque/Reuters


  • Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy is concerned that President
    Donald Trump’s “soft” response to the disappearance of Saudi
    journalist Jamal Khashoggi is linked to Trump’s business ties to
    Saudi Arabia. 
  • “I think the Saudis believe they have a blank check from
    this presidency,” Murphy told Business Insider.
  • Khashoggi, a Saudi national who has often been critical
    of the Saudi royal family in his reporting, went missing after
    entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early
    October.

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy is “very concerned” that President
Donald Trump’s “soft” response to the disappearance of Saudi
journalist Jamal Khashoggi is linked to the Trump family’s
business ties to the kingdom.

“I think the Saudis believe they have a blank check from this
presidency,” Murphy told Business Insider on Wednesday. “I don’t
understand why there’s such a close relationship between the
Saudi royal family and the Trump family.”

Murphy said there “may be some business interests” that explain
the warm relationship.

The Connecticut senator added, “I’m very concerned that US
national security policy is for sale and that the business
connection between the Saudi royal family and the Trump family
may explain why this administration has been so soft on the
Saudis throughout the past two years, but especially the past
week.”

Trump has been doing business with the Saudis for years,
and bragged about it during a rally

Trump on Tuesday attempted to downplay his business ties to
the Saudis. 

“For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi
Arabia (or Russia, for that matter),” Trump tweeted. “Any
suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is
plenty)!”

But the president’s Tuesday tweet didn’t paint a complete
picture.

The Trump Organization does not currently have any
buildings in Saudi Arabia, but the president’s businesses have
accepted substantial amounts of money from the Saudi
government. 

As
Business Insider’s Bob Bryan reported
:

  • Saudi Crown Prince Alwaleed bin-Talal purchased Trump’s
    282-foot yacht “Princess” for $20 million in 1991 (Trump was
    nearing bankruptcy at the time) and was part of a group that
    purchased the financially troubled Plaza Hotel for $325 million
    in 1995.
  • In 2016, the New York Daily News reported that the Saudi
    government also purchased the entire 45th floor of the Trump
    World Tower, for $4.5 million, in June 2001. Given annual fee
    fares for the building at the time, Trump also was paid $5.7
    million by the Saudis between the purchase and 2016, the paper
    reported.
  • Trump also boasted about his business dealings with the
    Saudis during a 2015 campaign rally in Mobile,
    Alabama. 
    “I get along great with all of them; they
    buy apartments from me,” Trump said at the time. “They spend $40
    million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them
    very much!”
  • The most recent example came last year,
    as 

    The
    Washington Post reported in August

     that a
    “last-minute” visit from Saudi officials to the president’s
    Trump International Hotel in New York City helped boost the
    hotel’s quarterly revenue by 13% in 2018’s first
    quarter.
  • In addition, a lobbying firm connected to the Saudi
    government also paid $270,000 to the Trump International Hotel in
    Washington, DC, between October 2016 and March 2017.

There are also
concerns about Jared Kushner
, the president’s son-in-law and
senior adviser, and his role in Trump’s response to the alleged
killing in relation to his ties to the Saudi crown prince.

Khashoggi was allegedly killed in a gruesome way

Khashoggi, a Saudi national who has often been critical of the
Saudi royal family in his reporting,
went missing after entering the Saudi consulate
in Istanbul
in early October.

Khashoggi is feared dead, and
Turkish officials allege he was brutally killed

The Saudis have vehemently denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s
disappearance, but it’s been over two weeks since he went missing
and they still haven’t provided proof he safely departed the
consulate. 

Trump has stood by the Saudis and said he doesn’t want to
stop US arms sales

The Trump administration’s overall handling of this
crisis has
been widely criticized.

Trump has primarily responded by
repeatedly touting denials from the Saudi royal family
, while
emphasizing the importance of US-Saudi relations. The president
also at one point suggested “rogue killers” could be responsible
for Khashoggi’s disappearance, and said the criticism against
Saudi Arabia is another case of “guilty until proven
innocent.” 

In response to Khashoggi’s disappearance, there are bipartisan
calls in Congress for economic sanctions to be leveled against
the Saudis, and for the US to immediately cease arms sales to the
kingdom.

But Trump has said it would be a “tough pill to swallow” to stop
arms sales, and has boasted about the billions of dollars of arms
the US has sold to the Saudis.

Trump on Thursday offered what was perhaps his most forceful
statement on the case yet, stating it “certainly looks” like
Khashoggi is dead. The president added that if it turns out the
Saudis killed him, there will have to be “very severe”
consequences, without specifying what the repercussions might
be.  

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