Trump reportedly said he protected Saudi crown prince from Congress: ‘I saved his ass’
President Trump reportedly admitted to protecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from pressure from Congress following the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I saved his ass,” Trump said in a 2018 interview with journalist Bob Woodward, according to an early copy of his upcoming book “Rage,” obtained by The Hill.
Trump spoke to Woodward after the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the veteran journalist pressed Trump on Khashoggi’s death in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
Khashoggi in his writings was a stark critic of the Saudi government and the crown prince in particular.
“The people at the Post are upset about the Khashoggi killing,” Woodward told Trump, according to his book. “That is one of the most gruesome things. You yourself have said.”
Trump sought to steer away from the topic, noting “Iran is killing 36 people a day,” but Woodward — who works at the Post — persisted.
“I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop,” Trump said of the crown prince.
According to the book, the president was wary of the economic consequences of a congressional measure seeking to block an $8 billion Saudi arms sale. The president eventually vetoed the measure.
“Let them trade with Russia instead. Let them buy thousands of planes from Russia instead of the United States. Let them go to China and buy all of their military equipment there instead of the United States,” Trump told Woodward, sarcastically. “Fellas, you’ve got to be smart.”
In July the president signed a measure allowing U.S. defense contractors to bypass a 33-year-old arms treaty and sell more large armed drones to foreign militaries, such as Saudi Arabia’s.
Woodward’s book, which is set to publish on Sept. 15, builds upon 17 interviews with the president, including one in which Trump said COVID-19 was “deadly” in early February, and later told the author he intentionally minimized its seriousness in public to avoid causing panic.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
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