Sportscaster Bob Costas ripped former President Donald Trump on Thursday over his decision to participate in an event for the Saudi-backed LIV golf tour despite sharp opposition from the families of 9/11 victims.

Trump has faced widespread criticism over his decision to host the controversial Saudi circuit’s LIV Golf Invitational at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey. The former president is also playing in a pro-am event ahead of the actual tournament.

“Some 700 plus of the victims on 9/11, 21 years ago, were from New Jersey, some of them from the Bedminster area, so the 9/11 families are very hurt about this, very upset, there will be protests outside the grounds,” Costas said during an appearance on CNN ahead of the event.

“But if we learned anything about Donald Trump, which it shouldn’t have taken very long to learn, is that he doesn’t care about any principle, including American democracy, or any person. He cares about nothing other than his own perceived self-interests,” Costas added.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump is playing in a pro-am event for the LIV Golf tournament.
via Getty Images

Critics have alleged that the LIV Golf, a circuit bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, is a thinly veiled attempt at “sportswashing” the country’s poor human rights record — which includes the 2018 assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump’s participation has also rankled the families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, who have described the move of top US golfers to join the circuit as “appalling.” Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia and the FBI has investigated connections between Saudi Arabia’s government and the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Costas said Trump’s participation has an “aspect of grievance and revenge” because the PGA Tour, a fierce rival of LIV Golf, nixed a tournament that was slated to take place at Trump’s Bedminster venue following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

“He was upset because the PGA pulled out following Jan. 6 the last year, following those events, they pulled the PGA tournament from the Bedminster course,” Costas said. “So this is an element of grievance on his part because, as we all know, he is, after all, ‘the most persecuted man in American history’ and he’s qualified to say that because he’s a scholar of history.”

Meanwhile, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he felt the uproar over Khashoggi’s death has “totally died down.”

Donald Trump
Donald Trump has faced widespread criticism for hosting the LIV Golf event.
via Getty Images
Donald Trump
Trump said the outcry over Jamal Khashoggi’s death has “totally died down.”
via Getty Images

Trump’s statement drew an incredulous response from Costas.

“What can you possibly say? People who want to believe what they want to believe will accept that. People who live in this reality will not,” Costas said.


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Tyler Cowan