Former President Donald Trump on Thursday defended hosting a Saudi-funded tournament at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, by casting doubt on any connection between Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Asked to respond to harsh criticism from families of Sept. 11 victims who are urging Americans to protest the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tournament, Trump suggested there was still uncertainty surrounding the attacks.
“Well, nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11, unfortunately, and they should have,” Trump said.
The group 9/11 Justice released a 30-second ad this week rebuking the tournament for being held “50 miles from Ground Zero” and accusing golfers participating in the contest of accepting “blood money.”
Families of 9/11 victims voice outrage over Saudi-backed LIV Golf TourJuly 28, 202203:15
The group has also highlighted an appearance Trump made on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” in 2016, when he acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 attacks and said documents supporting that conclusion should be publicly disclosed.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, were Saudi nationals. A document declassified by the FBI last year detailed contacts the hijackers had with Saudi associates in the U.S.
The earlier 9/11 Commission report did not find evidence that Saudi leaders were complicit in the attacks, but it did say Saudi nationals played key roles in funding Al Qaeda. The Saudi government has long denied having had any role in the attacks.
The tournament is the tour’s first contest on U.S. soil. Trump has rebuffed calls by protesters to cancel the event.
"I’ve known these people for a long time in Saudi Arabia, and they’ve been friends of mine for a long time," Trump said Thursday. "Many American companies, they own big percentages of many American companies, and frankly what they’re doing for golf is so great."