Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan has condemned President Donald Trump’s statement that the United States will remain a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia despite the brutal killing of Virginia-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In a much-awaited statement on Tuesday, Trump said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman may or may have not ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, a US resident and columnist for The Washington Post.
“That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the US president insisted. "They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran."
Ryan accused Trump of putting “personal relationships and commercial interests above American interests” by not holding bin Salman accountable for the death of Khashoggi.
“President Trump’s response to the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is a betrayal of long-established American values of respect for human rights and the expectation of trust and honesty in our strategic relationships,” Ryan said in a statement.
“President Trump is correct in saying the world is a very dangerous place,” he noted. “His surrender to this state-ordered murder will only make it more so. An innocent man, brutally slain, deserves better, as does the cause of truth and justice and human rights.”
Trump said Tuesday that "I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia.” However, he has boasted in the past that "I make a lot of money with them."
"Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million," Trump said during a presidential campaign rally in Alabama in August 2015. "Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much."
The CIA has concluded with high confidence that bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, ordered the gruesome murder at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Trump has previously promised “severe punishment” for those responsible for Khashoggi’s death, but also acknowledged that he would not jeopardize the US’s lucrative arms trade with Riyadh over a journalist.
In his statement, Ryan called on Congress to take action against Saudi Arabia despite Trump’s reluctance to do so.
Trump’s response drew angry reactions from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanded on Tuesday that the Trump administration examine whether bin Salman was responsible for the murder of Khashoggi.
Republican Senator Bob Corker and Democratic Senator Bob Menendez sent a letter to Trump triggering a provision of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act requiring the president to determine whether a foreign person was responsible for a human rights violation.