The US received a payment of $100 million from Saudi Arabia on the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh to meet with Saudi leaders to discuss the investigation into Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“The timing of this is no coincidence,” an American official involved in Syria policy told The New York Times. He confirmed the money arrived on Tuesday.
The payment, first reported by The Times, was pledged in August as part of American efforts to stabilize parts of Syria, but at the time, it was not immediately clear if or when the money would show up.
The sudden cash windfall raised some eyebrows on Wednesday, given the ongoing investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance, but US officials denied that the swift transfer of cash between Saudi Arabia and the US had anything to do with Pompeo’s visit to Riyadh.
“The specific transfer of funds has been long in process and has nothing to do with other events or the secretary’s visit,” said Brett McGurk, a US envoy cited by The Times.
Trump claimed he had “no financial interests in Saudi Arabia” after facing criticism for his response to Khashoggi’s case. However, Trump’s businesses have made millions from the Saudi government and the crown prince have his New York City hotel a huge boost, Business Insider’s Bob Bryan reported on Tuesday.
Saudi officials have repeatedly denied involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, and have been quiet about the details of their own investigation.
Pompeo declined to get into specifics as well, telling reporters during his visit: “I don’t want to talk about any of the facts; they didn’t want to, either, in that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way.”
But Turkish officials claimed to have discovered evidence of a crime inside the consulate where Khashoggi was last seen.
Trump last week vowed Saudi Arabia would face “severe punishment” if evidence implicates Saudi involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, but his administration has softened its stance in recent days — even casting doubt on reported Turkish audio and video evidence.
Earlier this week, Trump likened the global pressure on Saudi regime to allegations of sexual assault leveled against Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation.