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Donald Trump's ridiculous Twitter beef with a Saudi prince, explained

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal visits a refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal visits a refugee camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
(Jordan Pix/Getty)
Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

On Thursday, Donald Trump got into a Twitter fight with an actual Saudi prince, Alwaleed bin Talal. This is not a drill.

Here is the story of that fight — which grew, in its most recent manifestation, out of Trump's ongoing feud with Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and his decision to skip the Fox News debate on Thursday, but actually has a longer history.

Yes, the fight was on Twitter

Thursday morning, Donald Trump retweeted a meme from one of his supporters attacking Fox News for having ties to Saudi Arabia. It mostly speaks for itself:

It's worth noting that this photo is not real: It photoshops Kelly into a picture with Saudi-looking people. Prince Alwaleed's investment firm, Kingdom Holding Company, does own a stake in Fox News's parent company, worth about 6.6 percent of the company.

Thursday afternoon, Alwaleed shot back, seemingly peeved that Trump was involving the Saudis in his feud with Fox:

It appears that Alwaleed really has bailed Trump out twice, by purchasing Trump assets. In 1991, Trump had racked up $900 million in debts. He ceded his yacht — a former James Bond prop known as the Trump Princess — to creditors. Alwaleed then purchased it for $281 million, effectively paying Trump's creditors for him.

As part of the same bankruptcy, Trump was forced to sell the ritzy Plaza Hotel in New York. In 1995, the banks that took it from Trump sold it to Alwaleed and a group of Singaporean investors.

Trump told the New York Times that Alwaleed "paid too much for the hotel. He wanted that hotel so badly, and I put him through the wringer and made a great deal."

"Of course," the Times notes, "it cost the Saudi-Singapore partnership $75 million less than Mr. Trump had spent for the same building seven years earlier."

"Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal"

This is not the first time that Trump and the Saudi prince have clashed on Twitter. After Trump proposed his plan to ban Muslims from the United States in December, Alwaleed took offense:

Trump, characteristically, shot back:

The irony of this, of course, is that Donald Trump started out rich as well — and had help from his own "daddy's money."