The protest shines another unfavorable spotlight on what has become a source of heavy criticism for Trump. His and his family’s ties to the Saudis and association with LIV come amid renewed pressure for the US to distance itself further from the country over its human rights record. . President Joe Biden himself recently came under fire for his visit to Saudi Arabia after he vowed to make the nation a “pariah”.
Trump also seems to understand sensitivity. Eagleson, whose father, John Bruce Eagleson, died in the South Tower on 9/11, said a Trump representative personally called him yesterday in response to a letter sent by his group relaying his “deep pain and anger facing the decision to host two different inaugural LIV golf events.
The aide, according to Eagleson, said Trump read their letter and told Eagleson “9/11 is really near and dear to him and it’s so important to him that he will remember everyone who signed the letter and he personally told this individual to achieve.”
But, Eagleson said, it had “little or no value.”
“My answer is, if it was so important to him, why did he tell you to call me, why didn’t he call himself?” he added. “[The aide] kept repeating the same talking points, one being that the contract is binding and there is no way out. And when I pressed when [the contract] was signed, she said she didn’t know and just went on to say that the president was flattered by the letter, which was a strange thing to say, because it wasn’t a very flattering letter. It basically called him a hypocrite.
In addition to the letter, 9/11 Justice also requested a meeting with Trump before the tournament to voice their concerns and discuss Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks. The group is particularly focused on showing the public a clear connection between the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the Saudi government. They point out that recently declassified documents related to the US government’s investigation into the attacks and alleged Saudi official support for the hijackers provide clear evidence of the nation’s role that day. Fifteen of the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists who hijacked planes on 9/11 were Saudi nationals.
The group’s letter to Trump noted that he himself blamed Saudi Arabia for the attack during a 2016 interview on Fox News.
The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.
The tournament set to begin Friday at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster is LIV’s second U.S. event. The tour is backed by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was blamed by US intelligence for the gruesome death of a Washington Post columnist. It has not been without controversy since its inception. Critics of the LIV Invitational Series say it is an attempt by the Saudis to “sports-wash” their human rights record.
And the golf series has also divided the golf community, pitting the PGA against LIV, led by golfing legend Greg Norman. Professional golfers who have decided to join LIV – who have reportedly accepted up to $200 million in signing bonuses – have been suspended from PGA Tour events, but are still allowed to play in all four annual major tournaments.
Trump responded to this Truth Social ban and encouraged professional golfers to go ahead and join LIV.
“All of those golfers who remain ‘faithful’ to the very treacherous PGA, in all its various guises, will pay a heavy price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV arrives, and you’ll get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ PGA officials who make millions of dollars a year,” Trump said on his social media platform. “If you don’t take the money now, you won’t get anything after the merger and only say the intelligence of the original signatories.”
Trump’s decision to host Series LIV at two of his clubs (Doral in Miami will host the other) comes after the PGA decided days after the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill to end a deal to play the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster.
Eagleson said the 9/11 families were “beyond us” over Trump’s decision.
“We cannot imagine that the president, knowing what he knows and with his story about it, would welcome and facilitate the Saudi government hosting this tournament literally 50 miles from Ground Zero in a state where 750 people were murdered,” Eagleson said.