Former President Donald Trump is seemingly a fan of the LIV International Golf Series, a new tour backed by the Saudi Arabia sovereign-wealth fund as a challenger to the PGA Tour.
“I think LIV has been a great thing for Saudi Arabia, for the image of Saudi Arabia,” the former president is quoted as having said in an interview published Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal. “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.”
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Trump’s endorsement of LIV comes just days ahead of the tour’s next event, which, not coincidentally, is set to be played at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. It’s one of two LIV events set to be held at a Trump course this year.
“ ‘I can say that, from the standpoint of Khashoggi, that has died down so much. It really seems to have totally died down.’”
— Donald Trump
Many have criticized golfers, and Trump, for their involvement with LIV, citing U.S. allegations of human-rights violations and freedom curtailments against the Riyadh regime, including, most dramatically, the murder and dismemberment of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“I can say that, from the standpoint of Khashoggi, that has died down so much,” Trump said. “It really seems to have totally died down.”
“Nobody has asked me that question in months,” Trump continued, referring to the death of the Saudi national and Washington Post writer at a Saudi consular facility in Turkey.
From the archives (June 2019): Trump calls Saudi crown prince ‘a friend’ and stays mum on Khashoggi murder
Also (February 2021): Biden to reveal U.S. intelligence findings on Saudi leadership role in Khashoggi killing that Trump administration kept under wraps
According to the State Department, Saudi Arabia stands credibly accused in recent years alone of a litany of human-rights violations, including unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offenses; forced disappearances; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees by government agents; harsh and even life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; and the taking of political prisoners and detainees, among other offenses.
See: Biden says he made his view on Khashoggi murder ‘crystal clear’ to Saudi crown prince
See: Trump favored over DeSantis for 2024 Republican nomination ahead of ex-president’s first appearance in D.C. since leaving White House
And: An unsmiling fist bump serves as opening salvo in Biden’s tête-à-tête with Saudi crown prince MBS
Trump was asked about the group of 9/11 families who sent him a letter asking him to “reconsider” hosting the LIV event at his New Jersey course.
“I don’t know much about the 9/11 families. I don’t know what is the relationship to this, and their very strong feelings, and I can understand their feelings,” he reportedly replied. “I can’t really comment on that because I don’t know exactly what they’re saying, and what they’re saying who did what.”
From the archives (January 2021): PGA cites risk to its brand in canceling contract to hold event at Trump course
Earlier in July, Trump wrote on Truth Social that professional golfers will “pay a big price” if they don’t join the LIV series. Some long-standing members of the PGA Tour defected to LIV Golf, earning eye-popping payouts.
Phil Mickelson was reportedly offered $200 million to play in the league, and Dustin Johnson was reportedly offered $150 million, and those sums would go to the golfers simply for their participation. Tournament winnings for LIV events would swell their earnings.
Former pro Greg Norman is credited with hatching the idea decades ago of mounting a challenge to the powerful PGA Tour, Gold Digest has reported, and went on to be tapped as chief executive of LIV. The league consists of an eight-tournament circuit that features seven regular-season tournaments and one team event in October. Events will be held at golf courses near Boston, Chicago and Miami — one event has already been held in Portland, Ore. — and internationally in Thailand and Saudi Arabia.
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The event at Trump National Golf Club beginning July 29, and the season-ending event, starting on Oct. 27, will be hosted by Trump National Doral in the Miami area.