President Joe Biden returned from his trip to the Middle East where he begged Saudi Arabia to increase oil production in an effort to stave off an electoral bloodbath for Democrats his fall but the main issue on the minds of the D.C. press was Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was allegedly murdered by agents of the Saudi regime in 2018.
Biden had vowed to have tough talk with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has been accused of ordering the hit on Khashoggi during the talks between the two leaders, but according to a top Saudi official, the topic never came up.
Fox News White House Correspondent Jacqui Heinrich said in a tweet that Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told her colleague that he “did not hear” Biden confront bin Salman over his responsibility for Khashoggi’s death.
When confronted by a reporter at the White House on Saturday night, Biden all but formally called al-Jubeir a liar, disputing the words of the Saudi FM which likely won’t be well received in The Kingdom at a time when the White House desperately needs the oil-rich nation to open the spigots.
Asked by the reporter, “The Saudi Foreign Minister says he didn’t hear you accuse the Crown Prince of Khashoggi’s murder, Is he telling the truth?”
“No!” Biden replied, adding that he hopes that inflation goes down after the trip after grumbling about not being asked questions that mattered.
President Biden, returning to WH, says Saudi FM not telling truth
Biden then chided reporter for asking about MBS fist bump, telling press to 'talk about something that matters'
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) July 17, 2022
“With respect to the murder of Khashoggi, I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think about it now,” Biden said at a Friday press conference.
“He basically said that he was not personally responsible for it. I indicated that he was, and he said he was not personally responsible for it and he took action against those who were responsible,” Biden added, referring to the Crown Prince.
Khashoggi’s shocking murder enraged Washington, especially the Beltway media who were cozy with the journalist who was one of their own which could explain the rude outburst by NBC White House Correspondent Peter Alexander who slipped into Jim Acosta mode, shouting at the Saudi leader and then bragging about it on Twitter.
“Jamal Khashoggi, will you apologize to his family?” I shouted to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the end of the press pool spray.
MBS had a slight smirk, before a Saudi aide grabbed my arm tightly. pic.twitter.com/htrSAvu2f7
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) July 15, 2022
Establishment anger over Khashoggi at least partially contributed to Biden’s heated campaign trail rhetoric and vow to make Saudi Arabia into a “pariah” state but the highest inflation rate in four decades and the rising voter anger over budget crushing gas prices have spurred the president to if not forgive and forget, to at least dial down the hostility to deliver relief at the pump prior to the midterm elections.
Biden even fist-bumped with the Crown Prince, a gesture that seriously ticked off the press, especially the Washington Post which saw fit to release a statement condemning the “shameful” display.
— Kristine Coratti Kelly (@kriscoratti) July 15, 2022
According to a Wall Street Journal report, “When Mr. Biden brought up the murder during the closed-door meeting, Prince Mohammed retorted by pointing to what he sees as the weak U.S. response to other human-rights issues, according to two Saudi officials familiar with the matter. Saudi officials said the crown prince noted abuse of prisoners by the U.S. military at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison about two decades ago and the shooting death earlier this year of Palestinian-American reporter Shireen Abu Akleh during an Israeli raid into the West Bank. He argued that the U.S. cannot impose its values on foreign countries such as Saudi Arabia, the officials said, referencing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as examples of failed American interventions.”
Biden effectively calling the Saudi foreign minister a lying, dog-faced pony soldier is hardly the type of diplomacy necessary to persuade the House of Saud to help out in a time of need.
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