President Trump confirmed the harshest caricatures drawn by America’s most cynical critics on Tuesday when he portrayed its central objectives in the world as panting after money and narrow self-interest.
Ignoring the findings of the C.I.A., Mr. Trump said in a muddled statement released by the White House that, in effect, no matter how wrong the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, no matter where true responsibility lay, he would not stand up to the Saudi regime. He would not take any chance of risking its supplies of money, oil and help in the Middle East by holding the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, accountable for the killing.
The president made clear his commitment to the use of the exclamation point, if not to truth and justice: “It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
Mr. Khashoggi, a resident of Virginia though not an American citizen, was a columnist for an American newspaper, The Washington Post. It did not serve the safety of journalists or Americans abroad that President Trump could not summon even a modicum of lip service to condemn the abomination of dispatching a hit team equipped with a bone saw to throttle and dismember Mr. Khashoggi for daring to criticize the crown prince. The crown prince, who is 33, is an ally and kindred spirit to Mr. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.