President Donald Trump continued his soft approach to Saudi Arabia’s possible involvement in the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi Tuesday night, saying the kingdom has “been a great ally to me.”
Turkish officials claim that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but the investigation is ongoing.
> Trump told Fox Business Network's Trish Regan that the U.S. response to Saudi Arabia's involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance will depend on "whether or not they knew about it."
> "Saudi Arabia’s our partner, our ally against Iran," he said. "They’ve been a great ally to me."
> "They’re investing tremendous amounts of money," he added, referring to America's $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi kingdom.
The real estate mogul-turned-president has longstanding business ties to Saudi Arabia, particularly with Saudi businessmen spending large sums at Trump’s hotels and properties, going back as far as at least the 1990s.
> One Saudi royal billionaire, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, purchased Trump's yacht and a stake in New York's Plaza Hotel in the 1990s when Trump was in financial distress.
Trump denied in a Tuesday tweet that he has business interests in Saudi Arabia, as media reports have renewed scrutiny of his past business dealings and people have openly questioned if such interests are coloring his light-handed response to the current situation.
The president also in Tuesday’s interview that he doesn’t want to scuttle the arms deal:
> "Aren't we just hurting our own country?" he asked, responding to critics who have said he should end the arms deal. "Because here’s what’s going to happen — [they'll] buy them from China, buy them from Russia."
> "We’re not really hurting them, we’re hurting ourselves," he added. "I don’t want to give up a 110 billion dollar order."