- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The group representing White House journalists criticized the Trump White House Tuesday for showing less transparency than the government of Saudi Arabia about a meeting between President Trump and a top Saudi official.

“President Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s vice minister of defense at the White House yesterday, but the public did not learn about the meeting until the Saudi government released a statement about it today,” said White House Correspondents Association President Jonathan Karl. “It is disturbing to see the government of Saudi Arabia have more transparency than the White House about a meeting with the president in the Oval Office.”

Saudi vice defense minister Khalid bin Salman revealed in a tweet Tuesday that he had a previously undisclosed meeting with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office on Monday. He said he delivered a message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and reviewed “aspects of our bilateral cooperation, including efforts to confront regional and international challenges.”

The meeting came amid heightened tensions in the Middle East with Iran, an archrival of Saudi Arabia in the region. The U.S. killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani in a drone attack in Iraq last week, an act that has Tehran vowing revenge.

The Saudi government released photographs of Mr. Trump and his senior advisers meeting with the Saudi vice minister in the Oval Office, while the White House kept the U.S. media in the dark. The meeting was not listed on the president’s public schedule on Monday.

“A meeting with a foreign leader in the Oval Office should, at the very least, be on the public schedule with a read-out of the meeting released after it is over,” Mr. Karl said. “This has been the long-standing precedent for presidents of both political parties.”

Seven minutes after the WHCA criticized the White House for failing to disclose the meeting, Mr. Trump tweeted: “Had a very good meeting with @kbsalsaud of Saudi Arabia. We discussed Trade, Military, Oil Prices, Security, and Stability in the Middle East!”

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