Top Trump ally on Khashoggi killing: America's atrocities are 'equal, or worse'

Thomas Barrack Jr., a financier with close ties to President TrumpDonald TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE, on Tuesday defended Saudi Arabia when questioned about the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying that "atrocities" in the U.S. may be even worse. 

“Whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in America are equal, or worse," Barrack, who was chairman of President Trump's inaugural committee, said on stage at the Milken Institute MENA Summit in Abu Dhabi, according to Gulf News


“The atrocities in any ... country are dictated by the rule of law,” he added. “So for us to dictate what we think is the moral code there, when we have a young man and regime that is trying to push themselves into 2030, I think is a mistake.”

He later accused Western nations of failing to understand the Saudi government.

“The problem that has happened with the Khashoggi incident is the same problem with the West misunderstanding the east that has existed since Sykes-Picot," he said, referring to a post-World War I agreement between Western nations divvying up spheres on influence in the Middle East.

Barrack added that “the corrupt hand of the West has been the primary instigator in the kingdom."

Khashoggi, a Virginia resident who was a contributing columnist at The Washington Post, was killed in October after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. U.S. and international intelligence officials have indicated that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely played a role in the killing. 

Saudi Arabia foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir has said that the death was the result of "officials of the Saudi government acting outside their scope of authority." 

Barrack chaired Trump's inaugural committee fund, which raised nearly $107 million in the lead-up to his 2017 presidential inauguration. Federal prosecutors have been investigating if illegal donors channeled money into the fund. 

“Tom has never talked with any foreign individual or entity for the purposes of raising money for or obtaining donations related to either the campaign, the inauguration or any such political activity,” Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for Barrack, told The New York Times Times in December

Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Lawmakers praise Biden for expected recognition of Armenian Genocide Overnight Defense: Top Pentagon nominee advances after Harris casts tie-breaker | Air Force general charged with sexual assault first to face court-martial | House passes bill to limit Saudi arms sales MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday asked why Trump associated people such as Barrack in light of his recent comments.