On Thanksgiving Day, President Donald Trump once again touted the Saudi royal family’s denial of any role in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That didn’t sit well with Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat poised to take over the House Intelligence Committee.
“The president is not being honest with the country about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Schiff said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, having promised to use his new authority to investigate whether Trump’s personal finances influence his foreign policy. “Is his personal financial interest driving U.S. policy in the Gulf? … Are there financial entanglements with the Gulf? Are there financial inducements that the president has not to want to cross the Saudis?”
Although Trump tweeted last month that he has “no financial interests in Saudi Arabia,” he has in the past acknowledged business ties with the kingdom. “Saudi Arabia, I like the Saudis,” he said at a July 2015 campaign rally. “I make a lot of money with them. They buy all sorts of my stuff. All kinds of toys from Trump. They pay me millions and hundreds of millions.” The Associated Press reported that in the 1990s, when Trump was “teetering on personal bankruptcy and scrambling to raise cash,” a billionaire Saudi prince twice closed on multimillion-dollar deals, including one to buy a 282-foot yacht called Princess. More recent business comes through Saudi stays at Trump hotels during his presidency, though PolitiFact reports that the Trump Organization doesn’t appear to own property or invest in the kingdom.