How has Trump affected the relationship?
The president has long-standing business ties with the Saudis; by his own account, he’s sold them millions of dollars’ worth of real estate. “Am I supposed to dislike them?” he asked while campaigning for president. “I like them very much.” Since taking office, he has made the Saudi alliance a priority; his first foreign trip was to Riyadh. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner quickly grew close to one of the king’s sons, Mohammed bin Salman, and the administration strongly supported Mohammed’s elevation to crown prince last year, viewing him as a reformer intent on modernizing his country. Congress, though, is not so enamored. The killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month prompted the Senate to invoke the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which requires the president to identify within four months which individual Saudis should be sanctioned. “In moments like this, you have to embrace your values,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “No more transactional interactions.”