After Saudi Arabia admitted that journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been killed inside its Istanbul embassy, the CIA concluded that the assassination order had been personally issued by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It’s a damning accusation against one of America’s most controversial allies, and one that could give Donald Trump—who has repeatedly expressed friendship for the Saudi royal family—quite a headache.
The CIA conclusion is based on gathered intelligence and intercepted calls by the crown prince and the assassins. Nevertheless, the president this morning cast doubt on his own intelligence agency’s analysis and issued a separate evaluation, in a lengthy press release titled ”Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia.”
“America First!“ opens the statement, “The world is a very dangerous place!”
The text, distributed by the White House press office, opens with an attack on Iran and a description of Saudi Arabia’s sizable financial investments in the US. In the fifth paragraph, Trump gets to Jamal Khashoggi, conceding that “the crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone.”
But then Trump questions Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement, and suggests US intelligence is incomplete.
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!
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. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region
Quartz took the liberty of translating those sections, taking into account the CIA’s own conclusions about the crown prince’s involvement:
The CIA has concluded that the Crown Prince personally ordered this tragic event—yes he did!
That being said, we were not personally eyewitnesses to the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi, and I have personally refused to listen to the audio evidence because it is “a suffering tape.”
Sure, we could draw conclusions from the known facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi and from the expert opinion of top intelligence officers. But in any case, we won’t. Saudi Arabia has been a great ally in our attempts to alienate Iran. The United States therefore intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia, despite the kingdom’s disregard for democratic principles and human rights.