Donald Trump Sides With Saudi Prince In Khashoggi Murder: “Maybe He Did And Maybe He Didn’t!”
President Donald J. Trump, proclaiming “America First!” and “The world is a very dangerous place!”, is siding with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Despite the conclusions of the American intelligence community, Trump has issued a statement saying, literally, “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
The statement comes four days after the Washington Post reported that the CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi. Although the president said on Saturday that a “very full report” was forthcoming – possibly today – his statement today suggested that the U.S. had not reached a final conclusion – and perhaps never would.
His decision to stand with Saudi Arabia apparently was made prior to reading the expected intelligence report. Trump also has also refused to listen to a recording of Khashoggi’s murder (“It’s a suffering tape,” he explained).
Last week, the U.S. imposed sanctions, under the Magnitsky Act, on 17 Saudi citizens suspected of involvement in the murder. Trump’s statement today suggests that’s the end of that.
“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!,” writes Trump. “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran.”
Trump also notes Saudi Arabia’s financial investment in the United States, and takes credit for it: “After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money.”
In the wake of Trump’s statement, former CIA director John O. Brennan called on Congress to “obtain & declassify” the CIA findings on Khashoggi’s death, and said the president “excels in dishonesty.”
“Since Mr. Trump excels in dishonesty, it is now up to members of Congress to obtain & declassify the CIA findings on Jamal Khashoggi’s death,” Brennan tweeted. “No one in Saudi Arabia—most especially the Crown Prince—should escape accountability for such a heinous act.”
Trump’s statement also repeats unsubstantiated claims by Saudi Arabia that Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He added that his decision to stand with Saudi Arabia “is in no way based on” those allegations against Khashoggi, but offers no explanation on why he included the smears in his statement.
The president does not mention that Khashoggi was a journalist or worked for The Washington Post. Khashoggi’s editor at the Post, Karen Attiah, called Trump’s statement “a new low” and “full of lies and a blatant disregard for his own intelligence agencies.”