Jul 26, 2022 - Sports

Trump says controversial LIV Golf "worth billions" for Saudi Arabia

A general view of Trump National Golf Club during a practice round prior to the LIV Golf Invitational.

A general view of Trump National Golf Club during a practice round prior to the LIV Golf Invitational. Photo: Mike Stobe/LIV Golf/via Getty Images

Former President Trump told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit has been "worth billions of dollars" for Saudi Arabia.

The big picture: LIV Golf has been a subject of controversy as critics allege that Saudi Arabia is looking to boost its global image by funding the tour.

  • The former president's comments come as the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, is set to host LIV Golf's third event on Friday.

What he's saying: "I think LIV has been a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for the image of Saudi Arabia," Trump said. "I think it’s going to be an incredible investment from that standpoint, and that’s more valuable than lots of other things because you can’t buy that — even with billions of dollars."

  • "I do think that the publicity that they've gotten, more than anything, has been a great thing for them," Trump said. "I think the publicity they’ve gotten is worth billions of dollars. It's one of the hottest things to have happened in sports, and sports is a big part of life."

Between the lines: Saudi Arabia's involvement in LIV Golf has stoked criticism due to the country's record on human rights, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Axios' Tim Baysinger reports.

  • Families of 9/11 victims have also criticized the tour and asked Trump to cancel the event, the Washington Post reports. Fifteen of the 19 attackers on 9/11 were Saudi citizens.
  • "We simply cannot understand how you could agree to accept money from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s golf league to host their tournament at your golf course, and to do so in the shadows of Ground Zero in New Jersey, which lost over 700 residents during the attacks," a group of 9/11 victim families wrote in a letter to Trump obtained by the Post.

The National Press Club President Jen Judson and the National Press Club Journalism Institute President Gil Klein denounced LIV Golf and the former President's involvement with the tournament. They also called on Americans not to watch or support the tournament.

  • "We call on all Americans to see this unsavory attempt to minimize the grisly bone-saw attack on Washington Post opinion writer Jamal Khashoggi for what it is – an attempt to sweep under the rug a brutal state-sponsored murder," Judson and Klein said in their statement on Tuesday.

Trump told WSJ he "can't really comment" on the 9/11 families "because I don’t know exactly what they're saying, and what they're saying who did what."

  • But he downplayed criticism of the tour over the killing of Khashoggi, saying: "I can say that from the standpoint of Khashoggi, that has died down so much. It really seems to have totally died down."

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from The National Press Club

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