It was the latest instance of Trump prioritizing strategic and financial interest in the kingdom over the assessment of the intelligence community and concerns from his own party, who hold Mohammed primarily responsible for the murder of the prominent dissident. The Saudis signed letters of offer and acceptance for $14.5 billion worth of purchases as of October 2018. The report said the crown prince and other senior officials should be investigated over Khashoggi's murder.
Khashoggi, 59, was a U.S. resident who wrote for the Washington Post.
Khashoggi, who had been living in the US, criticized the Saudi royal family in his writings.
USA intelligence agencies had also concluded that the crown prince ordered that Khashoggi be killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
"Saudi Arabia is a big buyer of (American) product".
"That means something to me", the president said. "It's a big producer of jobs", the president said.
"I've seen so many different reports", Trump said.
There were echoes of that justification on Sunday as the president said he remained focused on the business and strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia, which the administration considers a key ally in the Middle East and says "serves as a bulwark against Iran and its proxies' malign activities in the region". This is a vicious, hostile place. "Look at Iran, look at other countries, I won't mention names", he said. "As long as they keep buying. you'll overlook some of this behavior".
"No, no", Trump responded. "Are you going to give me drugs?" They'll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese. "Take their money. Take their money, Chuck". "Take their money, Chuck". Late past year, after intelligence investigations strongly suggested that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was likely behind the murder of Khashoggi, Trump insisted the kingdom was a "great ally".
It's not clear which is the more disturbing possibility here, if President Trump was pressured once again by the Crown Prince to cover up this murder, or if he's moved on so far from being bought off on that murder that he didn't bother to bring it up in a week when both a United Nations report on the murder was coming and the Senate was voting against arms sales specifically because of that murder. Rand Paul, one of a handful of GOP members who voted against the arms sales, told his colleagues on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.