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Trump sticks by Saudi Crown Prince
[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump doubled down on his support for Saudi Arabia, saying the murder of Jamal Khashoggi won't jeopardize the US relationship with the world's largest oil supplier.
In a statement headlined "America First!" Mr Trump said the kingdom's strategic importance outweighs the "horrible crime" against the US-based critic and columnist last month, even if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing. "If we broke with them, I think your oil prices would go through the roof," Mr Trump told reporters.
The backlash from US lawmakers was swift. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said Mr Trump showed "subservience to the leaders of an authoritarian and murderous monarchy," while Republican Senator Lindsey Graham described the crown prince as "beyond toxic."
Sweeping the murder under the carpet may be difficult. Senate leaders invoked a human rights-related law to require a formal US determination whether the prince is responsible. If it decides he was, then Congress could impose additional sanctions.
Allegations by Amnesty International that Saudi authorities tortured and held activists without charge will bolster the view that Prince Mohammed is no longer a reliable partner.
The question is whether Mr Trump decides at some point that the crown prince is an obstacle rather than a linchpin of US support for Saudi Arabia and its long-term Middle East policy.