President Trump’s position on the disappearance and presumptive killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been forced to change yet again, after days of trying to downplay the incident and defend the Saudis. Trump now says “it certainly looks” like Khashoggi is dead.
The journalist went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and never came out. Turkey has audio and video recordings of his murder by a team of Saudi officials. His body has yet to be recovered, and Turkey speculated it was destroyed in acid.
President Trump has tried to back away from the idea of doing anything too serious to the Saudis, and most recently revised his position to say the US would only do something if it was found that a top royal family member was directly involved. That said, he’s also warned there would be “severe consequences.”
That’s a problem for him too now, because the US intelligence community is increasingly convinced that the Saudi crown prince is culpable in the killing. That top aides to the prince, and members of his personal security were on the kill team only underscores that belief.
President Trump is now insisting that it is “too early” to try to assign blame, and is looking to give the Saudis more time to come up with some sort of excuse. The US has repeatedly extended the Saudis additional days for an official report. Trump says his goal is the “best intelligence we could have,” and that the US is working with several countries on intelligence about Khashoggi.
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