State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert visited Saudi Arabia this week for meetings related to the disturbing disappearance of Saudi critic and journalist Jamal Khashoggi ― but that didn’t stop her from playing tourist on Instagram.
On Tuesday, the former Fox News host shared a photo of herself smiling in the capital city of Riyadh, where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had arrived hours earlier to question Saudi officials about the missing reporter.
“#SaudiArabia at The Royal Court,” Nauert captioned the photo.
Turkish officials contend that Khashoggi was killed and dismembered shortly after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Top Saudi leadership has denied knowledge of his disappearance.
Before Khashoggi entered the consulate, he told his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, to call a senior Turkish official if he did not emerge within a few hours, The Washington Post reported. “He was worried,” Cengiz said.
Given the grim circumstances of Nauert’s trip, her seemingly cheerful pose on Tuesday drew condemnation from several Instagram users.
“Stunningly tone deaf,” one user wrote. “Can you even pretend to be a bit concerned about the situation?”
Another reminded Nauert, “You’re on an official trip to find out the truth about a journalist being killed...not on a holiday.”
The State Department brushed off the issue, however.
“Stop trying so hard to manufacture controversy,” said deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino when asked for comment on Nauert’s photo.
This story has been updated to include comment from the State Department.