Why is Trump acting like the Saudis' lawyer in the Khashoggi affair?

I spoke with one of the many lobbyists who have been caught up in the Khashoggi affair now that it has become a classic Washington moment, in which a money gusher deemed acceptable by the Beltway’s élite suddenly becomes politically untenable. The lobbyist blamed M.B.S. for not being what Washington wanted him to be. “We can’t all go and live in this guy’s lie. No way. It’s just too vivid and too morbid,” the lobbyist told me. “This isn’t one for everybody to get on board. It’s not going to work that way.” But he was also furious with Trump for exacerbating the scandal and turning it, once again, into a story about Trump himself. “Trump never handles anything right,” the lobbyist, a Republican, said. “Never. Never.”…

Trump’s response to the Khashoggi affair represents “the Putinization of world order,” as Vance Serchuk, the foreign-policy adviser to the former C.I.A. director David Petraeus, put it to the Post’s Josh Rogin. It is the predictable outcome of a President who not only dismisses human rights but actually encourages others to flout them. Trump chose to make Saudi Arabia the first foreign trip of his Presidency, instead of Mexico or Canada, where our leaders traditionally go. He has lavished praise on tyrants while getting into a public feud with the liberal Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. Does it matter that Trump calls journalists “enemies of the people,” that even in the midst of this uproar he cheered on a Republican politician who physically attacked a journalist? Yes, it does. Saudi Arabia’s assault on Jamal Khashoggi will not only be remembered as the isolated killing of a lone dissident by a tyrannical Middle Eastern monarchy. Because of Donald Trump and his weeks of equivocations, it will be remembered as an embarrassing stain on America’s record, too. Trump, cornered, may well pivot next to censure and finger-wagging, although for now he still seems to be a willing participant in what many believe to be a Saudi coverup. But the damage has been done, and the world is well aware of what America’s President really thinks.