Trump Won't Listen to Khashoggi Tape 11/19 06:09
President Donald Trump said there is no reason for him to listen to a
recording of the "very violent, very vicious" killing of Saudi journalist Jamal
Khashoggi, which has put him in a diplomatic bind: how to admonish Riyadh for
the slaying yet maintain strong ties with a close ally.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump said there is no reason for him to
listen to a recording of the "very violent, very vicious" killing of Saudi
journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which has put him in a diplomatic bind: how to
admonish Riyadh for the slaying yet maintain strong ties with a close ally.
Trump, in an interview that aired Sunday, made clear that the audio
recording, supplied by the Turkish government, would not affect his response to
the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who had
been critical of the Saudi royal family.
"It's a suffering tape, it's a terrible tape. I've been fully briefed on it,
there's no reason for me to hear it," Trump said in the interview with "Fox
News Sunday." ''I know everything that went on in the tape without having to
On Saturday, Trump said his administration will "be having a very full
report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday." He said the report
will include "who did it." It was unclear if the report would be made public.
American intelligence agencies have concluded that the crown prince ordered
the killing in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, according to a U.S. official
familiar with the assessment. The official was not authorized to discuss the
matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Others familiar with
the case caution that while it's likely the crown prince was involved in the
death, there continue to be questions about what role he played.
Trump noted to "Fox News Sunday" that the crown prince has repeatedly denied
being involved in the killing inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
"Will anybody really know?" Trump asked. "At the same time, we do have an
ally, and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good."
A Republican member of the Senate intelligence committee said that so far,
there is no "smoking gun" linking the crown prince to the killing. Sen. Roy
Blunt of Missouri, who has received a confidential intelligence briefing on the
matter, told ABC that "it's hard to imagine" that the crown prince didn't know
about the killing, but he said, "I don't know that we absolutely know that yet."
He said that Congress will await the Trump administration's report in the
next two days and that the U.S. will need to be clear about the ramifications
of sanctions, given Saudi Arabia's strategic role in the Middle East.
For his part, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, said the crown prince has
been a "wrecking ball" in the relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
"I hate to say that because I had a lot of hope for him being the reformer
that Saudi Arabia needs, but that ship has sailed as far as Lindsey Graham's
concerned," the South Carolina Republican told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"I have no intention of working with him ever again," said Graham, who is in
line to be the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Intelligence officials have been providing information to Trump for weeks
about the death, and he was briefed again by phone Saturday by CIA Director
Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as he flew to California. White
House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders provided no details of his call
but said the president has confidence in the CIA.
"The United States government is determined to hold all those responsible
for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable," the State Department said in a
statement. "Recent reports indicating that the U.S. government has made a final
conclusion are inaccurate. There remain numerous unanswered questions with
respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi."
The statement added: "The U.S. government has taken decisive measures
against the individuals responsible, including visa and sanctions actions. We
will continue to explore additional measures to hold those accountable who
planned, led and were connected to the murder. And, we will do that while
maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and
Before his call on Air Force One, Trump told reporters that when it came to
the crown prince, "as of this moment we were told that he did not play a role.
We're going to have to find out what they have to say." That echoed remarks by
national security adviser John Bolton, who said earlier this week that people
who have listened to an audio recording of the killing do not think it
implicates the crown prince.
Germany's foreign minister on Monday said Berlin had banned 18 Saudi
nationals from entering Europe's border-free Schengen zone because they are
believed to be connected to Khashoggi's killing. Heiko Maas told reporters in
Brussels on Monday that Germany issued the ban for the 26-nation zone in close
coordination with France, which is part of the Schengen area, and Britain,
which is not. He said the 18 Saudis are "allegedly connected to this crime" but
gave no further information and didn't release their names.
Trump has called the killing a botched operation that was carried out very
poorly and has said "the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history
But he has resisted calls to cut off arms sales to the kingdom and has been
reluctant to antagonize the Saudi rulers. Trump considers the Saudis vital
allies in his Mideast agenda.
But members of Congress are pushing Trump for a tougher response to the
killing. The administration this past week penalized 17 Saudi officials for
their alleged role in the killing, but American lawmakers have called on the
administration to curtail arms sales to Saudi Arabia or take other harsher
Turkish and Saudi authorities say Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United
States, was killed inside the consulate by a team from the kingdom after he
went there to get marriage documents.