'US President Donald Trump has boasted to his supporters about a bizarre phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, where he made the monarch pay more money in exchange for the military support that the kingdom receives from Washington.
Addressing a large “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Trump said on Saturday that he would like to keep Saudi Arabia as a close partner because of the Riyadh regime’s extravagant purchases from American companies.
"They [Saudis] have nothing but cash, right?" he told the exuberant crowd. "They buy a lot from us, $450 billion they bought."
"You had people wanting to cut off Saudi Arabia... I don't want to lose them," he said, referring to bipartisan demands in Washington to punish Riyadh for the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October.
It’s unclear where Trump drew the $450 billion figure, a reference that he had repeated before.
Asked to explain his decision to ignore Saudi’s conduct in Khashoggi’s murder, Trump said in October that he didn’t want to lose “a million jobs” as well as a mega deal that was “really $450 billion if you include other than military."
The phone call
The American head of state then described a recent phone conversation he had with King Salman, in which he basically forced Saudi king to reach deeper in his pockets in order to pay for military protection from the US.
"We lose $4.5 billion on a country to defend them, and they're rich," Trump said.
"So I called them. I said: listen, no good. They were in a state of shock because they've never got a call like this in 25 years, right," he told a cheering audience.
"I said we're losing $4.5 billion every year, we can't do this anymore. This is crazy. He [Salman] got very upset, angry, said this is not fair. I said, of course, this is fair. He said we'll give you $500 million more ... I said I want more. We argued. So they paid us more than $500 million for one phone call, it took me one call."
Shocked by the conversation, Salman asked Trump why he called him because "nobody had made such a call," Trump further bragged.
"That's because they were stupid!" the American head of state said of his predecessors.'
Read more: ‘It took me one call’: Trump brags how he made King Salman pay more for US military protection