Families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks are condemning former President Donald Trump’s decision to hold a Saudi-backed LIV Golf event at his club in New Jersey.
The group, 9/11 Justice, is running ads that cite Saudi involvement in the attacks. The 30-second spot features relatives of victims ripping into Mr. Trump and participants in the Bedminster event.
“This golf tournament is taking place 50 miles from Ground Zero,” one man says in the spot. “I’m never gonna forget, never gonna forgive the golfers for taking this blood money.”
The families plan to hold protests ahead of the tournament, which kicks off Friday and is expected to feature big names such as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson.
The Saudi-backed LIV circuit has opened up a deep rift with the PGA tour and a debate around “sports-washing,” in which governments with questionable track records clean up their image through glitzy events and big payments to athletes.
Mr. Trump tried to patch things up with the 9/11 families, according to Politico. He told an aide to call 9/11 Justice founder, Brett Eagleson, to express that 9/11 is “really near and dear to him,” though Mr. Eagleson was not impressed.
“My response is, if it was so important to him why did he tell you to call me, why didn’t he call himself?” he told the outlet. “[The aide] just kept repeating the same talking points, one being that the contract is binding and there is no way out of it. And when I pressed on when [the contract] was signed, she said she didn’t know and just continued to say that the president was flattered with the letter, which was a weird thing to say, since it was not a very flattering letter. It called him a hypocrite essentially.”
The situation underscores the fraught nexus between Mr. Trump’s business life and political role, and the tricky relationship U.S. leaders have with Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. relies on the kingdom for its petroleum supply and for it to be a counterforce to Iran in the Middle East region.
But there are moral complications in getting too close to the kingdom, given its poor human rights record, alleged ties to the 9/11 plotters and role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S.-based journalist who was killed and sawed into pieces at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
9/11 families also slammed President Biden for meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman this month and giving him a fist bump.
Mr. Biden defended the trip as part of his diplomatic efforts, but some viewed it as an attempt to beg for oil production and ease the political pain of high gas prices at home.