Trump administration denies any conclusion reached in Khashoggi killing

Lamar Ellis
November 18, 2018

Turkey has long maintained that it was in possession of a recording of the death, which it said had been shared with officials from Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, the USA and the UK. "I have to take a lot of things into consideration".

"Recent reports indicating that the U.S. government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, stopping short of explicitly rejecting reports that the Central Intelligence Agency had implicated Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United States, often criticized the royal family.

The CIA assessment is based on the conclusion the Prince is the country's de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs and therefore is likely to have played a role.

It said Prince Khalid told Khashoggi that "he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so", and claimed the call was made at the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The kingdom has faced intensifying global pressure to be transparent about the death of Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Mogherini, whose declaration was backed by the EU's 28 foreign ministers, including Germany's Heiko Maas, also condemned Shalaan's call Thursday that the five suspects be sentenced to death. "And, we will do that while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia", Nauert underlined.

All the circumspection, laughter, and Trump administration statements that even at the time seemed weird and gullible, say critics, appear even more damning on Friday night after the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency believes the evidence shows that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, directly ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The US assessment directly contradicts the conclusions of a Saudi prosecutor one day prior, which exonerated the prince of involvement in the brutal murder.

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Khashoggi disappeared on October 2 after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The senior U.S. official also told the American news network that "investigators also believe an operation such as the one that ended in Khashoggi's death would not have happened without bin Salman's knowledge given his control of the government". He has appeared reluctant to directly criticise the crown prince.

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.

Trump administration on Thursday imposed sanctions on 17 individuals but it does not include any senior Saudi intelligence officers. "I expect they will be in the future", he said at a security forum in Halifax, adding Middle Eastern allies including Saudi Arabia are "a stabilizing force in the region".

The newspaper said it was not known whether the ambassador knew Khashoggi would be killed.

While it was unclear whether Prince Khalid knew... During the phone call, Khalid bin Salman encouraged Khashoggi to go to the consulate in Istanbul. They give us a lot of jobs and a lot of business and economic development.

But Turkish officials alleged a 15-man Saudi hit squad carried out the killing. But it wasn't until after he disappeared, on October 2, that US intelligence agencies began searching archives of intercepted communications and discovered material indicating that the Saudi royal family had been seeking to lure Khashoggi back to Riyadh.

The CIA does not know the location of Khashoggi's remains, according to the Post. But Trump has gone out of his way not to blame Saudi Arabia or bin Salman, a close friend of the president's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

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