Oct 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Trump defends hosting Saudi-backed LIV golf tournament

Former US President Donald Trump at the 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Miami at Trump National Doral Miami golf club on Oct. 27.

Former President Trump at the 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Miami at Trump's National Doral Miami golf club on Oct. 27. Photo: Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump defended hosting a tournament from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit at his family-controlled 800-acre golf club in Miami in a brief interview with the New York Times published Sunday.

Why it matters: Trump deflected concerns about Saudi influence and its tarnished human rights record by criticizing the U.S., claiming, "We have human rights issues in this country too."

  • The Trump family has not publicly disclosed how much money it has made from hosting tournaments from the highly controversial circuit, which is funded by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and has been criticized as a way for the country to polish its global image.
  • The 2022 LIV Golf Invitational Miami at Trump's National Doral Miami golf club started last week and ends Sunday.

What they're saying: Trump also told the Times on Thursday that he did not have any second thoughts about hosting the tournament.

  • He said the conversation he had with Saudi officials convinced him that golf was "very important to them" and that “they’re putting a lot of effort into it and a lot of money into it."

The big picture: During his presidency, Trump declared that the U.S. would stand by Saudi Arabia after the CIA determined with "high confidence" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident.

  • The Office of the Director of National Intelligence last year released an unclassified report assessing that MBS approved the operation to "capture or kill" Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where his body was also dismembered.
  • Family members of 9/11 victims called on Trump to cancel another LIV Golf tournament at his family's golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, in late July.
  • The tournament still took place, with Trump saying he couldn't understand what the families were saying and claiming that "nobody has gotten to the bottom of 9/11."
  • Trump displayed the presidential seal multiple times during the Bedminster tour even though he lost the 2022 election and is no longer the president and federal laws prohibit its use for the purpose of conveying "a false impression of sponsorship."

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