United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday strongly defended "steadfast partner" Saudi Arabia despite CIA’s conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the brutal killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "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!" Trump said.
"In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," he added.
Khashoggi – a leading columnist in The Washington Post – was brutally murdered on October 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Reports in the US media said that according to the CIA probe, the crown prince was the man who ordered the killing.
The CIA findings claimed that 15 Saudi agents flew on government aircraft to Istanbul and assassinated Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate. The CIA investigated multiple intelligence inputs and a phone call between the Saudi Crown Prince’s brother – Saudi ambassador to the United States – and Khashoggi.
Prince’s brother had assured Khashoggi of safety and directed him to visit the Istanbul consulate to collect the documents he needed for his marriage. After initially denying about the murder, Saudi Arabia later blamed the killing on rogue agents but refuted the claims that the crown prince had orchestrated the operation.
While the Kingdom received international condemnation, the US president refused to believe on CIA’s conclusion, saying the probe agency had not made 100 per cent determination on the killing. In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Trump had said that he refused to listen to the “terrible tape” recording of Khashoggi’s murder provided by Turkey.