U.S. President Donald Trump says reports about the CIA concluding that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are premature, and that a full CIA analysis will be presented to him early next week.
“We’ll be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday,” Trump told reporters while touring areas devastated by the California wildfires on Saturday.
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Trump, who previously said the CIA would be speaking to him about their Khashoggi findings on Saturday itself, said the upcoming report will cover “what we think the overall impact was and who caused it and who did it.”
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the CIA laid the blame for Khashoggi’s death at the hands of Saudi authorities after reviewing evidence including a taped phone call in which the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Khaled bin Salman — younger brother of the crown prince — told Khashoggi to go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up his wedding documents and assured him that he would be safe there.
Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate on Oct. 2.
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The CIA’s reported assessment contradicts the Saudi government’s assertions that Prince Mohammed was not involved in the slaying of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the crown prince.
Reuters and the Associated Press each cited officials familiar with U.S. intelligence assessments confirming the CIA’s position that Khashoggi’s killing did not and could not have happened without the involvement of Prince Mohamed.
According to Reuters, the CIA has already briefed other U.S. government departments on its assessment.
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The killing of Khashoggi was “a horrible thing,” Trump said, adding, “It should never have happened.”
He conceded that it’s “possible” that the CIA lays the blame for Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul at the door of Prince Mohammed.
“In the meantime, we’re doing things to some people that we know for a fact were involved, and we’re being very tough on a lot of people,” Trump said, ostensibly in reference to reported U.S. Treasury sanctions on 17 Saudi individuals linked to the killing.
Those sanctioned include Saud al-Qahtani, a former top aide to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the Saudi Consul General Mohammed Alotaibi, according to a source familiar with the administration’s plans.