United States President Trump acknowledged late Saturday that Saudi Arabia has not been forthcoming in its explanation of what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
He further indicated that he does not believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman played a direct role in the dissident’s killing.
“There is a possibility he found out about it afterwards. It could be something in the building went badly awry. It could be that’s when he found about it,” Donald Trump told The Washington Post in an interview.
He also indicated he expects more information about Khashoggi’s death to come out; he left open the possibility the crown prince was responsible.
“Nobody has told me he’s responsible,” President Trump told the Post of the crown prince. “Nobody has told me he’s not responsible. We haven’t reached that point … I would love if he wasn’t responsible.”
“There’s been deception, and there have been lies,” Trump said.
The missing journalist Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2nd October and was not seen leaving. Saudi leadership initially claimed it did not know what happened to Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who spoke critically of the Saudi government.
So far 18 people have been arrested in connection with Khashoggi’s death and claimed the 59-year-old was killed during a fight gone awry in the consulate.
The president indicated to the Post that he would like to see the crown prince remain in power, calling him a “strong person” who “truly loves his country.”
President Trump has vowed “severe” consequences” for Saudi Arabia in Khashoggi’s death, but has simultaneously emphasized the importance of the economic relationship between the two countries. He has expressed reluctance to touch U.S.-Saudi weapons deals, arguing it might hurt the American economy.
On Friday, he called the Saudi explanation for Khashoggi’s death a “good first step.”
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