President Donald Trump is facing widespread backlash over his response to Friday’s shooting at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.
Within minutes of confirmation that the suspect in the shooting hailed from Saudi Arabia, Trump got on the phone with the Saudi king. He then fired off a couple of tweets saying that King Salman had called him to “express his sincere condolences” and “sympathies” to the families of the three people who were killed and eight who were wounded in the shooting.
“The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people,” Trump tweeted.
Trump critics expressed concern about his call with Salman and pointed to the president’s extensive financial connections to the Saudis.
“Imagine if the attacker had been Iranian, a refugee, or an undocumented immigrant — the response would be very different,” tweeted Ned Price, a former CIA officer who was detailed to President Barack Obama’s National Security Council. “We have a president who contours policy responses to his own interests. It’s always personal interests before national interests — even in times of tragedy.”
Imagine if the attacker had been Iranian, a refugee, or an undocumented immigrant — the response would be very different.
We have a President who contours policy responses to his own interests. It’s always personal interests before national interests — even in times of tragedy. https://t.co/lFXISKFZIj
— Ned Price (@nedprice) December 6, 2019
Mieke Eoyang, vice president of national security think tank Third Way, suggested Trump should get his priorities straight.
“I hope the president has more concern and time for the loved ones of those killed than he did for the King,” Eyoang tweeted.
There may be snarky responses to Trump's tweets about the call with King Salman. I will not make them.
Let me just say:
I hope the President has more concern and time for the loved ones of those killed than he did for the King.
— Mieke Eoyang (@MiekeEoyang) December 6, 2019
During the 2016 campaign, Trump openly boasted about his relations with the Saudis, telling a rally crowd in Mobile, Ala., that he gets along “great with all of them.”
“They buy apartments from me,” Trump said at the time. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much!”
The Saudis have also given Trump’s hotels plenty of business.
The Washington Post reported that Saudi government officials gave the Trump International Hotel in Midtown a 13% boost in revenue in the first quarter of 2018 by staying there for an extended visit.
A lobbying firm connected to the Saudis, meanwhile, dished out $270,000 to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., between October 2016 and March 2017, according to records.
Since he refused to divest himself from his namesake business empire upon taking office, Trump has stood to personally profit from the Saudi transactions.
Trump has also shielded the Saudi’s from any accountability over their alleged crimes.
After American journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in 2018, Trump took the denial of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at face value over an assessment from his own intelligence agencies that the Saudi royal family member had ordered the killing.