Another day without definitive proof that Jamal Khashoggi is dead or that the Saudis killed him in their Turkish Embassy.
The odds that this is what happened, however? Huge. There is video of him walking into the embassy but none of him ever leaving. If he’s not there now, where is he?
And what about the anonymous claims that there is audio and video proof he was tortured and murdered?
Or the anonymous claim that the Saudis are prepared to say “Yes, he’s dead but it was an accident; an interrogation that went wrong”? What would they be interrogating him for if he was there for no reason other than to secure a marriage license?
Let’s always keep in mind that, as of this moment, we do not know the fate of Jamal Khashoggi for sure, or how he came to that fate.
But the probabilities are what they are, and they look extremely grim – both for Khashoggi himself, and the Saudi involvement in what happened to him.
Now let’s talk about President Trump.
What possible good did it – could it – do for him to tell the world that, regardless of what is ultimately found out about the fate of Khashoggi, we’re going to keep the arms deal with Saudi Arabia intact?
Why did he tell the Saudis that, whatever happened to Khashoggi, whatever they did to him and however much they may have lied about it, we will still continue to sell them the means to stay in power and keep behaving the same way?
That was stupid. Amazingly stupid. And it exposed the worst attribute of Donald Trump – his inability to shut the hell up before he knows what he’s talking about.
So what do we do now? What are the “severe” consequences he bloviated about if it turns out that the most likely scenario is true; that Saudi Arabia did, in fact, murder Jamal Khashoggi?
We can only wait, and hope they are meaningful in a way that maximally punishes the Saudis while minimally punishing us.
Given Mr. Trump’s performance so far, I would lie to say I am at all confident.