Topline

Former President Donald Trump has come under fire recently for his connection to the controversial Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour a departure from Trump’s previous claims about the Saudi Arabian government’s alleged role in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, leaving him to give a back footed defense of his new partnership.

Key Facts

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Trump is hosting LIV Golf’s third-ever tournament at his country club in Bedminster, New Jersey starting Friday, and has expressed his absolute loyalty to the new golf circuit backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Several groups representing those who lost family members in the Sept. 11 attacks—who believe the Saudi government aided the atrocities—have condemned the “blood money” financing LIV Golf, and have since pointed their criticism at Trump.

Brett Eagleson, a founder of the 9/11 Justice group that ran a viral ad This week condemning Trump, tore into the former president during a Friday interview with CNN, accusing Trump of “putting money over America” and claiming he is losing support among his past voters involved with the activist groups, claiming Trump is now “basically dead to them.”

Trump came under fire Thursday after he responded to the protests by explaining “nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately,” despite claiming himself in 2016 that there’s evidence of the Saudi government playing a role in the attacks.

Key Background

Since the launch of LIV Golf, there have been pervasive allegations of the Saudi government using the tour as a way to “sportswash” its subpar human rights record. Early criticism focused on the country's de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman's role in the 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, though focus has recently turned to the Saudi government's alleged role in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Declassified US intelligence has not implicated the Saudi government in providing direct backing to the attacks, a theory backed by several 9/11 activist groups and previously backed by Trump, though documents released by the FBI last year provided details on two of the hijackers' interactions with a Saudi government employee. Some 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals.

Crucial Quotes

Dennis McGinley, whose brother died in the Sept. 11 attacks, told CBS News on Thursday that Trump hosting the event in Bedminster is "a kick in the gut, a ripping open of the wound again."

Tangent

The four highest-paid golfers in the world over the last year are LIV Golf defectors Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, according to Forbes' analysis, in large part due to the tour's hefty upfront bonuses.

Trump Claims 'Nobody's Gotten To The Bottom Of 9/11' When Pressed On Ties To Saudi-Funded LIV Golf (Forbes,

Hosting Saudi Golf Tourney, Trump Has Forgotten He Used to Blame Kingdom for 9/11 ,Rolling Stone,

The World's Highest-Paid Golfers 2022: LIV Golf Reshuffles Top Earners And Sends Pay Soaring (Forbes,