Rep. Eric Swalwell on Rachel Maddow: Trump and Saudi Arabia Colluding on Murder Cover-up
On Wednesday night on MSNBC, a Democrat Congressman on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Eric Swalwell, alleged to host Rachel Maddow on her show that the President of the United States is actively colluding with the Saudi government to cover up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Rep. Swalwell tried to avoid putting it bluntly, but that is exactly what he communicated during his appearance on the show, as can be seen in the above clip. Rachel Maddow also saw exactly what was being alleged, and addressed it directly during her interview.
Swalwell first established that the murder happened, that we know it happened, and that we know who did it. Maddow displayed this tweet of his on screen.
If someone was killed in your home, while you were in it, and 15 days later you’re still trying to come up with an explanation…forget it. We already know. #Khashoggi
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) October 18, 2018
She then asked what he meant by that, exactly. “So when you say we already know when it comes to Jamal Khashoggi and the Saudi government, what do you mean?”
“Well, I kind of fall back on my work as a prosecutor where if it takes this long to come up with a explanation as to what happened,” he said, “well, we kind of already know that the Saudis are responsible and now they’re seeking to mitigate just, you know, who knew at the highest levels.”
Swalwell was establishing the murder, the perpetrator, and the awareness of those two things. He also established the cover-up. The next part was to implicate the United States in that cover-up, which he did first by relating the Saudi responses so far to how witnesses in the Trump-Russia probe have responded.
“And actually this is similar to many of the witnesses we had in our Trump-Russia investigation. Many times we would ask a witness a question and they’d consult with their lawyers for 5 to 10 minutes and we already know the answer,” he said.
Next, he made the direct implication. “That’s what’s disturbing here is that the United States is actually a part of the, you know, explanation process with the Saudis.”
Maddow then listed the various pieces of information that have been shared through the press from Turkish sources, and asked whether there was any particular or specific evidence thus far provided to the United States or to the intelligence committee establishing the story as it is widely reported.
Swalwell said that because he is away from D.C. he hadn’t been briefed at “the highest level”, then promoted an op-ed he just published exhorting the U.S. to send the FBI to investigate.
“I’ve actually called for and just wrote an op-ed asking for the FBI to be tasked to do this so that they can work with their counter parts over there and use their resources, and why would we want our own FBI to do this? Well, it’s a U.S. Resident working for a U.S. publication who was likely murdered by a U.S. Ally. So we have great reasons to want to know what happened.”
After Maddow asked if it was the President’s responsibility to task the FBI to investigate, Swalwell answered yes, and then made the final connection.
“It’s looking more and more– you know I thought just a couple of days ago that the President was parroting what the Saudis wanted him to say, as to what happened, but now it seems more like the Saudis are parroting what the President wants them to say,” said Swalwell, “as he is, you know, really imploring on them to use this this deny, deny approach that he always seems to get away with.”
Maddow, who was conducting an excellent interview, pressed him to express directly what he’d so far expressed in only parts. “As far as you can tell– what you’re implying here is that President Trump and the Saudi government are working together essentially to cover up what happened here?”
Swalwell did not say the words “yes” or “no” in reply, but he conjured agreement with that assessment nevertheless.
“Well, it fits the pattern of every time Donald Trump is presented with overwhelming evidence, he thinks he can just deny his way out of it,” he said. “And now we see that a Wall Street Journal reporting tonight is that U.S. Government and Saudi officials are working to minimize what role the Crown Prince and the King had in the killing”
The Trump administration is already deeply involved in this even without an FBI probe, and to borrow the Wall Street Journal‘s phrasing, has become a mediator between Turkish and Saudi officials. Though the President has claimed he wants answers, he has made many public statements leading away from the Crown Prince, the King, and the Saudi government in general bearing responsibility. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has worked hard to give the Saudi government ample time to craft a response, despite pressure from some in the GOP, and there are Republican representatives going on cable news effectively as surrogates casting doubt on even the occurrence of a murder, much less culpability. The Trump administration’s stance is without doubt an integral part of the overall story.
What Rachel Maddow caught, and pressed Swalwell over, was that his implication is a step much further. That rather than smoothing things over or trying to make a problem go away with public statements, or trying to offer excuses in order to protect a strategic alliance, the administration and Trump personally are actively aware of, and covering up, the murder of Khashoggi by the Saudi government and, in collusion with them, directing or helping to direct their response.
That’s a far more serious allegation. And though he delivered it in stages and tried not to answer directly in the end, it is the allegation Swalwell made in the interview.
Watch the clip above, courtesy of MSNBC.
[Featured image via screengrab]
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