President Trump is determined not to hold the Saudi government accountable for killing Jamal Khashoggi, even though it is increasingly apparent that they did so. This has left the Saudis scrambling to offer an official report justifying this stance.
The Saudis have promised an official report on what happened, and President Trump has publicly insisted his standard for not punishing them is that no top members of the royal family were behind the killing of the journalist. Enter Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri.
A top Saudi intelligence official and a close adviser to the crown prince, Maj. Gen. Assiri looks like virtually the ideal scapegoat for the Saudis. He could be blamed and punished, and President Trump has an excuse to not punish the Saudis.
The longer this gets drawn out, however, the more time the US intelligence community has to do its own digging, and they are increasingly convinced of the crown prince’s guilt already. While sacrificing the general may once have been the simple path to protect the royals, that may no longer work.