RNA - Addressing a large “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Trump said on Saturday that he would like to keep Saudi Arabia as a close partner because of the Riyadh regime’s extravagant purchases from American companies.
"They [Saudis] have nothing but cash, right?" he told the exuberant crowd. "They buy a lot from us, $450 billion they bought."
"You had people wanting to cut off Saudi Arabia... I don't want to lose them," he said, referring to bipartisan demands in Washington to punish Riyadh for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October.
It’s unclear where Trump drew the $450 billion figure, a reference that he had repeated before.
Asked to explain his decision to ignore Saudi’s conduct in Khashoggi’s murder, Trump said in October that he didn’t want to lose “a million jobs” as well as a mega deal that was “really $450 billion if you include other than military."
The phone call
The American head of state then described a recent phone conversation he had with King Salman, in which he basically forced Saudi king to reach deeper in his pockets in order to pay for military protection from the US.
"We lose $4.5 billion on a country to defend them, and they're rich," Trump said.
"So I called them. I said: listen, no good. They were in a state of shock because they've never got a call like this in 25 years, right," he told a cheering audience.
"I said we're losing $4.5 billion every year, we can't do this anymore. This is crazy. He [Salman] got very upset, angry, said this is not fair. I said, of course, this is fair. He said we'll give you $500 million more ... I said I want more. We argued. So they paid us more than $500 million for one phone call, it took me one call."
Shocked by the conversation, Salman asked Trump why he called him because "nobody had made such a call," Trump further bragged.
"That's because they were stupid!" the American head of state said of his predecessors.
Before his presidency, Trump described Saudi Arabia as "a milk cow" which would be slaughtered when its milk runs out.
Last September, Trump said he had told King Salman that Riyadh has "trillions of dollars" and could pay its military bills.
"I love Saudi Arabia. They are great, King Salman, I spoke with him this morning. I said, king, you have got trillions of dollars. Without us, who knows what’s going to happen. .... With us they are totally safe. But we don’t get what we should be getting," he said.
Trump further threatened to end what he claimed to be subsidies for the Saudi military.
"We are subsidizing their military. I said let me ask you a question. Why are we subsidizing the military — it’s one thing if a country is in deep trouble and in danger," he noted. "I said 'Saudi Arabia, you are rich, you have got to pay for your military. You have got to pay for your military, sorry'."
According to Press TV, the President continued his berating remarks in October 2018, told a cheering crowd of supporters at a rally in Southaven, Mississippi, that Saudi King Salman would not last in power unless the US provided military support for the Arab kingdom.
“We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they're rich? And I love the King, King Salman. But I said 'King — we’re protecting you — you might not be there for two weeks without us — you have to pay for your military,'” Trump said.
In an attempt to save face, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said back then that Riyadh “will pay nothing” to the United States for the kingdom's “security.”
“Actually we will pay nothing for our security. We believe that all the armaments we have from the United States of America are paid for, it’s not free armament," said the young prince.