Business Standard

Trump's confidant defends Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's murder, apologises

IANS  |  Washington 

Tom Barrack, a who is one of Donald Trump's closest confidants, has defended over Jamal Khashoggi's killing, saying that the US does not have the moral authority to criticise the kingdom due to its own record of "atrocities".

Barrack made the comments on Tuesday at a summit in organised by the Santa Monica, California-based think tank. He apologised for his remarks on Wednesday.

"Whatever happened in Saudi Arabia, the atrocities in are equal or worse to the atrocities in Saudi Arabia," Barrack had told the crowd at the Milken Institute's MENA Summit, reported citing

"The atrocities in any autocratic country are dictated by the rule of law. So, for us to dictate what we think is the moral code there - when we have a young man (Saudi Mohammed bin Salman) and a regime that's trying to push themselves into 2030 - I think is a mistake."

Barrack was also a top during Trump's 2016 campaign and helped raise more than $100 million as of Trump's inaugural committee. His remarks invited criticism back home.

"There is never a time that you can go murder a in a foreign country, dismember them and carry their body off and say that somehow that's justifiable," Republican Senator said.

"It never, ever is justifiable and it doesn't equate to anything that's happened in the US where we stand up for the free press," he added.

Later, Barrack issued a statement, calling the murder of Khashoggi "atrocious" and "inexcusable" and apologised for "not making this clear in my comments earlier this week".

Khashoggi, a of the Crown Prince's policies, was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents inside the kingdom's Consulate in on October 2.

The concluded last year that the ordered Khashoggi's killing. But Saudi officials rejected that assertion and said the agents who killed the were acting against orders.

Despite apologising, Barrack suggested that the responsibility of the murder should not rest on Saudi leadership.

"I feel strongly that the bad acts of a few should not be interpreted as the failure of an entire sovereign kingdom," he said, maintaining that "rule of law and monarchies across the are confusing to the West".

Several Republicans had earlier joined Democrats in accusing the of misleading the country and obscuring the truth of Bin Salman's alleged involvement in the murder. Khashoggi's body has not been found yet.



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First Published: Thu, February 14 2019. 15:18 IST