Washington Post publisher: Trump statement on Khashoggi killing tells 'tyrants' they can 'get away with murder'

Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan on Wednesday slammed President Trump's statement about slain Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, writing that the president's statement tells "tyrants" they can "get away with murder."

Ryan, who is also the paper's chief executive, wrote in an op-ed published Wednesday in the Post that Trump's statement was "bizarre, inaccurate and rambling." 

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"A clear and dangerous message has been sent to tyrants around the world: Flash enough money in front of the president of the United States, and you can literally get away with murder," he wrote.

"President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE whitewashed the Saudi government’s brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi," Ryan continued.

Ryan went on to write that Khashoggi's killing was "personal" for many of his colleagues at the Post.

"For many at The Post, Khashoggi’s murder is personal. He was a well-respected colleague, and his loss is deeply felt," he wrote.

"But we are also mindful of our mission of public service. When officials here in Washington abandon the principles that the people elected them to uphold, it is our duty to call attention to it," he added. "For our part, we will continue to do everything possible to expose the truth — asking tough questions and relentlessly chasing down facts to bring crucial evidence to light."

Ryan's op-ed came one day after Trump issued a statement in which he said the U.S. would maintain a "steadfast" alliance with Saudi Arabia, refusing to blame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi's killing even though the CIA has reportedly concluded that the crown prince ordered his assassination.

"If we abandon Saudi Arabia, it would be a terrible mistake," Trump said. "Right now, we have oil prices in great shape. I'm not going to destroy the world economy and I'm not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia."

Ryan wrote Wednesday that Trump's statement "maligned a good and innocent man" and that it "betrays" U.S. interests.

"Throughout this crisis, the president has maintained that he’s looking after our 'national interests.' But Trump’s response doesn’t advance the United States’ interests — it betrays them. It places the dollar values of commercial deals above the long-cherished American values of respecting liberty and human rights," he wrote.

Khashoggi was killed early last month after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to obtain marriage documents for his upcoming wedding. The Saudi government has acknowledged the journalist was murdered by a team shortly after arriving at the facility and was later dismembered. His body still has not been found.

The Saudi government has said Crown Prince Mohammed was unaware of the operation, though multiple reports have found that it would be unlikely the crown prince would have no knowledge of such an operation's existence. 

Ryan also called on Congress to take action citing Trump's "failure of leadership."

"It now falls to Congress to truly put America first by standing up for America’s sacred values and lasting interests," he wrote. "As we’ve seen from the strong support of both Republicans and Democrats, this is not a partisan or political interest; it is an American interest."

The Trump administration last week announced that it had imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis accused of coordinating and carrying out plans to kill Khashoggi. The group included a former top aide to the crown prince and the Saudi consul general in Istanbul.