Speaking today on the disappearance and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump declared that he is “not going to walk away from Saudi Arabia.” He added that he doesn’t intend to do anything about it so long as the top members of the Saudi royal family aren’t implicated directly in the murder.
Khashoggi went missing October 2 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say they have recordings of him being murdered by Saudi forces inside the consulate. Turkish media reported that the audio recording showed Khashoggi was dismembered while he was still alive.
President Trump appeared to try to throw some doubt into this, saying he’s asked to have the audio “if it exists.” He did admit, however, that it “probably does exist.” Turkey had reported they’d provided the recordings to the US days ago, and reiterated today that the US already has copies of the audio in question.
Early reports of Saudi Arabia’s planned report on the incident suggested they planned to call it an “interrogation gone wrong,” and one the crown prince didn’t know about. Given how many of the killers are part of the prince’s personal security team, it’s going to be difficult to claim he was totally in the dark about it.
President Trump’s new standard that he won’t punish the Saudis unless the top royals are implicated certainly suggests that however the Saudi report chooses to spin this, that’s going to be part of the bottom line. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed earlier in the day that the Saudis have been given a few more days to finalize the report.