A group of Sept. 11 victims’ family members and survivors held a news conference to protest the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV golf tour hosted by former President Donald Trump on Friday.
Representative Tom Malinowski also criticized Trump following statement the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey hosting a tournament sponsored by the Saudi Golf League.
“While I have no objection to former President Trump holding golf tournaments in New Jersey, I am strongly opposed to anyone taking money from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed to help him undercut one of America’s professional athletic leagues while whitewashing his human rights record,” said Malinowski. “The former president’s decision to hold this tournament in New Jersey, less than 50 miles from the site of the Twin Towers, while the 9/11 families are still seeking declassification of records on possible links between Saudi officials and the hijackers, is particularly galling.”
Saudi agents killed and dismembered journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
“The Saudi LIV league has been from the outset a transparent attempt by Saudi Arabia to improve its image without improving its conduct,” said Malinowski. “The Saudis have thrown grotesque sums of money at players willing to abandon the US Professional Golfers Association and at their other American partners – money they made by keeping the price of oil artificially high after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a policy that has helped Putin and hurt America.”
“According to the U.S. State Department, the Saudi government under Mohammed bin Salman has murdered journalists, imprisoned and tortured women advocating for the right to drive, locked away teenagers for social media posts, and prevented American citizens and their families from leaving Saudi Arabia,” said Malinowski. “Now they’re spending big money made at the expense of American consumers on a PR stunt to distract our attention from their abuses. New Jersey’s golf clubs and America’s professional athletes should have nothing to do with this.”
“I hope that those who have gotten involved with the Saudi LIV league will consider the moral, reputational, and long-term financial risks of their decision and reconsider it.,” said Malinowski.
The Saudi crown prince, known as MBS, is believed to have ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner –who benefited from a $2 billion investment from a Saudi fund–defends his relationship with the notorious 36-year-old MBS in a forthcoming memoir, saying that he was reforming the kingdom.
Kushner also said that he believed Bin Salman’s denials of any personal involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.
That puts him at odds with U.S. intelligence agencies, which concluded that MBS had directly approved an operation to kill or capture Khashoggi.
While he was in the White House, Trump shrugged off the murder as an episode that should not get in the way of relations between Washington and Riyadh.
And although President Joe Biden has talked of building a foreign policy based on values and of making Saudi Arabia a pariah for its actions, he recently with MBS in an effort to bring down oil prices.