For example, these reasonable questions from the autocratic leader of Turkey all reference facts, things that actually exist or don’t exist. These questions seek important details about things that happened in the real world, things that can be examined, things that will determine which story about the events is more true than the others:
“Why did 15 people gather in Istanbul the day of the murder? Who did these people receive orders from?” he asked. “Why was the consulate opened not immediately, but days later, for investigation? When the murder was obvious, why were inconsistent explanations given?”
“Why is the body still not found?” source
These are all things that can be investigated and verified — did fifteen security men arrive in Turkey at 3 a.m. and leave for Saudi Arabia again at the end of the same day, after the murder? Who gave the order to kill a prominent Saudi citizen who had been critical of the young Crown Prince, to kill him in the consulate? Why was the consulate closed for days after the hit? Were inconsistent stories told by the Saudis? Where is the body of the man accidentally and tragically killed after he allegedly started a fist fight against the fifteen security men in the consulate?
Not surprisingly, our leader had a different spin on the apparent guilt of the Saudi Crown Prince. In a curiously framed paragraph in the Washington Post (where Khashoggi worked for the last year) he is quoted as describing the Saudi hit as a bungled job:
Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump skewered the Saudis, saying, “They had a very bad original concept, it was carried out poorly, and the coverup was the worst in the history of coverups.” He added, “In terms of what we ultimately do, I’m going to leave it very much — in conjunction with me — I’m going to leave it up to Congress.” source
Nice skewer job, sir. Now we are led to a series of alternative thoughts, taking us away from what appears to be a brutal premeditated murder ordered from on high and into the realm of pure imagination. A very bad original concept– they should never have killed that traitor in the consulate, that was just stupid, an ill-conceived idea. You kill him elsewhere, any mobster’s preschool grandson could tell you that you don’t kill him in your own house! Carried out poorly — you don’t leave a blood spattered consulate that takes days to clean before investigators can be let in, you don’t saw up the body there, for Christ’s sake! You drive a car in and secretly take the body out intact, wrapped in plastic, in the trunk, even if you have to wait until dark. You certainly cut him up somewhere else. Sheesh… The coverup was the worst, the worst! You don’t wait weeks to make up a story that is not a bit credible, you do that immediately and you tell it over and over and over, as many times as necessary. Then you say “I’ve told you this a hundred times, that’s it. Now you treacherous fake news vampires are just being deliberately disrespectful. You want what that Saudi big mouth got? LOL!”
I don’t know what happened in Istanbul, outside of the fact that a man from the wealthy and powerful elite of Saudi society, banned from writing in Saudi Arabia by the new Crown Prince, was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. I also know that his body has not been found. Bad concept, bad execution (bad pun intended), bad coverup.
I also don’t know what happened in a house in a wealthy Washington D.C. suburb more than thirty years ago, between a drunk prep school junior and a freshman girl, out of her depth at that little impromptu gathering nobody else even recalls. I believe the sickening detail of the laughter of the drunken preppies after one of them held her down and the other later piled on. It makes sense that this moment would be indelibly imprinted on the hippocampus of the traumatized young woman.
Applying Judge Martha Kavanaugh’s famous rule for judges– ‘use your common sense, what has the ring of truth? what rings false?’ it appears that a premeditated murder of a critical journalist was committed on behalf of the young medieval crown prince of Saudi Arabia and that the trauma the woman remembers happened pretty much as she told it. Her explanation of why she was certain of the identity of her attacker rang true.
Of course, the president is excellent at answering these questions, he does it effortlessly. The Saudis did a full investigation of their badly planned, terribly covered up murder of a very disloyal guy who had it coming. The Supreme Court justice gave a very strong denial, very strong, and it turns out nobody could confirm anything that woman said, which proves she was lying.
In each case, one question remains above all others when trying to discern the ring of truth from the ring of falsity. Who stands to gain the most from the story being told the way it is? Who has the weightier motive to tell the particular story they tell? Who has the more convincing concept, execution and cover-up, to put it in the president’s purely transactional terms?