Colbert Condemns Trump for Not Punishing Saudi Arabia Over Khashoggi Death

"Did Donald Trump just knowingly provide cover for a murderous autocrat? Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t,” the host said, before silently mouthing, “He did.”
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Following President Donald Trump's statements Tuesday that the U.S. will not punish Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Stephen Colbert responded to Trump's decision on Tuesday's Late Show.

The CIA previously stated that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia had ordered the murder of Khashoggi, though Trump's statement sided with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Trump said in the statement. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”

Noting Trump’s comment that the “world is a very dangerous place,” the Late Show host said, “It is now. Apparently, you can kill a Washington Post journalist and the president won’t give a damn.”

"Trump's official presidential decision on who is to blame is a resolute, 'I dunno,'" said Colbert.

The host continued to read from Trump's press release. "Our intelligence agencies continue to assess our information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he did," read Colbert with his Trump impression.

Colbert went on to condemn Trump for covering for the Saudi prince. "Did Donald Trump just knowingly provide cover for a murderous autocrat? Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t,” the host said, before silently mouthing, “He did.”

"'Maybe he did.' That's written. Someone wrote that down. Someone actually typed that," continued Colbert. "'Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't.' That statement informs us in no way. A Magic 8 Ball would have taken a firmer stance."

Colbert then gave his best impression of Trump explaining his rationale. "'Look, things are not knowable. We live in a quantum state of flux where time and matter coexist in inter-dimensional plasma, in which all possible pasts and futures simultaneously manifest on the time-space continuum,'" he joked. "'In that infinite multiverse of noncongruent para data, we must consider the possibility that I do weigh 239 pounds.'"

The host explained that there are "gobs of evidence" that link the prince to the murder, including a state department official's comment that "the idea that it goes all the way to the top is blindingly obvious."

"I'm surprised that Trump can’t see that. He is known for looking at things that are blinding," responded Colbert as a photo of Trump starring at the solar eclipse without eye protection appeared onscreen.

"Even though Trump's statements call the murder a horrible crime, he still managed to throw some shade of the victim, saying, 'Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi is an enemy of the state,'" read Colbert. The host continued his Trump impression by joking, "'Yeah, enemy of the state. Sounds like a bad guy. I mean, not Jim Acosta bad, but still pretty scary.'"

"And in the face of this transparent — nay, audiotaped human rights violation — the president reminded him that you can’t put a price on human life, but he can," said Colbert. He shared that Trump's statement said the kingdom agreed to spend $450 billion in the United States if it canceled the investigation.

Colbert continued to use his Trump impression. "'It's like the old story. First they came for the journalists and I said nothing. Next, they came with a bag of money and I said, 'Thank you,'" he said.

Watch the full clip below.