The gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi still shocks many, and the CIA might have just revealed the fears of many. That Saudi Prince Salman ordered the act.
America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ) has blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Khashoggi.
But President Donald Trump has dismissed the conclusion as “very premature” and said he will receive a complete report on the case on Tuesday.
Trump discussed the CIA assessment by phone with the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while flying to California on Saturday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
The CIA had briefed other parts of the U.S. government, including Congress, on its assessment, sources told Reuters on Friday, a development that complicates Trump’s efforts to preserve ties with the key U.S. ally.
A source familiar with the CIA’s assessment said it was based largely on circumstantial evidence relating to the prince’s central role in running the Saudi government.
The CIA’s finding is the most definitive U.S. assessment to date tying Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler directly to the killing and contradicts Saudi government assertions that Prince Mohammed was not involved.
Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince, was killed in October at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul when he went there to pick up documents he needed for his planned marriage.
As lawmakers push legislation to punish Saudi Arabia for the killing, both Republican and Democratic senators on Saturday urged Trump to be tough on the crown prince, with whom he has cultivated a deep personal relationship.
Trump and top administration officials have said Saudi Arabia should be held to account for any involvement in Khashoggi’s death and have imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis for their role in the killing.
But they have also stressed the importance of Washington’s ties with Riyadh, one of the biggest clients of the U.S. defence industry. Trump wants to preserve the Saudi arms deals, despite growing opposition in Congress.