President Donald Trump on Wednesday doubled down on his defense of Saudi Arabia, thanking the kingdom for helping to keep a lid on oil prices, amid bipartisan criticism for his statement on the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
On Tuesday, Trump declared he would stand by Saudi Arabia, even though the CIA has reportedly concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's killing. After releasing the statement, Trump repeatedly linked his position to his desire to boost arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the kingdom's role in preventing an oil price spike.
Early Wednesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to promote the recent sharp pullback in oil prices and to praise Saudi Arabia.
"Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let's go lower!," Trump tweeted, giving an inaccurate account of the drop in oil prices.
@realDonaldTrump: Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let's go lower!
Trump's tweet underscored a message that is drawing fire from both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill: The administration will overlook human rights abuses — even the murder of a U.S. resident like Khashoggi — if making a stand imperils the president's pursuit of economic growth.
On Tuesday, Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said the White House is now moonlighting "as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia."
Trump's statement prompted Corker, who is about to retire, and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez to send a Global Magnitsky Act letter to the White House, requiring the president to determine whether Crown Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi's slaying.