Trump Cites Saudi Deception of Khashoggi, But Defends ‘Strong’ Crown Prince

Trump: I would love if he wasn't responsible

Saudi Arabia’s Friday evening explanation of how they killed Jamal Khashoggi isn’t going over very well internationally, with claims that the 60-year-old journalist started a fistfight with 15 people seen as not particularly credible.

Realistically, the report had one job, and that was to give President Trump cover to avoid making any moves threatening Saudi arms sales. Even Trump, however, is increasingly forced to admit that there has been “deception and lies” in the Saudis’ treatment of the incident.

That said, President Trump is still definitely on board for not punishing Saudi Arabia, praising the crown prince as a “strong person,” and claiming no one has yet told him he’s responsible. Trump further speculated that the crown prince might’ve heard only after the hit team full of people with close ties to the crown prince had killed Khashoggi. Trump added “I would love if he wasn’t responsible.

These leaves Saudi officials trying to roll the dice on anew explanation of the killing, with one official saying that the hit team of 15 people told Khashoggi he was going to be drugged and kidnapped, and then they choked him to death when he resisted.

This raises more questions, as the unnamed official says one of the kill team left in Khashoggi’s clothes to try to cover the matter up. The rest of the team rolled him up in a rug and gave him to a “local cooperator” to dispose of.

This narrative totally flies in the face of the report from Turkish media on the audio recording to Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment. It’s likely the Saudis hope they can find something short of the truth that will stick, though weeks into the affair the scandal seems certain to massively harm their international reputation.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.