Jan 7, 2020

WHCA: Trump's failure to disclose meeting with Saudi envoy is "disturbing"

President Trump with Prince Khalid bin Salman in the Oval Office, Jan. 7. Photo: via Khalid bin Salman, Twitter

White House Correspondents' Association President Jonathan Karl called the lack of transparency surrounding President Trump's meeting with the Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister "disturbing," adding Monday's unannounced Oval Office visit broke precedent.

The big picture: Photos of the meeting, which included several senior White House advisers, were tweeted out Tuesday by Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, indicating he delivered a message to Trump from his brother, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Background: After Trump's decision to kill Iranian general Qasem Soleimani last week, Prince Khalid was urgently sent to Washington for fear that Saudi Arabia could get caught up in the rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Read the statement:

"President Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Vice Minister of Defense at the White House yesterday, but the public did not learn about the meeting until the Saudi government released a statement about it today. The Saudi government also released photographs of the President and his senior advisers meeting with the Vice Minister of Defense in the Oval Office. A meeting with a foreign leader in the Oval Office should, at the very least, be on the public schedule with a read-out of the meeting released after it is over. This has been the long-standing precedent for presidents of both political parties. It is disturbing to see the government of Saudi Arabia have more transparency than the White House about a meeting with the President in the Oval Office."
— Jonathan Karl, president, White House Correspondents' Association

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Saudi envoy met with Trump, shared message on Iran from crown prince

President Trump met with Prince Khalid bin Salman in the Oval Office, Jan. 7. Photo: via Khalid bin Salman, Twitter

Saudi Arabia's deputy defense minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, revealed on Twitter that he delivered a message to President Trump yesterday from his brother, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia is deeply concerned it could become engulfed in uncontrolled escalation between the U.S. and Iran following President Trump's decision to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. That explains the decision to urgently dispatch Prince Khalid to Washington.

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Khashoggi's fiancée to attend Trump's State of the Union

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Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) announced Monday that he's taking researcher Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as his guest to this week's State of the Union.

Driving the news: It's an attempt to press President Trump to step up action against Saudi Arabia for its role in his death. A CIA report concluded in November 2018 that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's killing. The prince denies doing so.

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Ripples from Soleimani strike will be felt for years to come

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Tom Stoddart Archive/Getty Contributor, Adam Glickman/Underwood Archives/Getty Contributor, Mehdi Ghasemi/Getty Contributor, NurPhoto/Getty Contributor

The killing of Qasem Soleimani unleashed immediate fears of war — even of World War III — but if no further shots are fired, Thursday's airstrikes in Baghdad will nonetheless generate momentous consequences.

The big picture: Iran has lost its best military strategist, and America has eliminated a man it saw as a singularly destructive actor in the region. But the current U.S. concerns aren't limited to where and when Iran will strike back.

Go deeperArrowJan 7, 2020 - World