Trump said the slaying of the Saudi Arabian journalist has “been heavily investigated” and he suggested that pledges by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia to spend billions of dollars buying U.S. military equipment is more important to him because of the economic impact and jobs than finding out what happened to Khashoggi.
Last week, an independent U.N. report on the killing found “credible evidence” to warrant further investigation into the possible role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and called for the FBI to investigate. U.S. intelligence agencies had also concluded that the crown prince ordered that Khashoggi be killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
WATCH: U.N. calls for investigation into Khashoggi murder
“Saudi Arabia is a big buyer of (American) product. That means something to me. It’s a big producer of jobs,” the president told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in a wide-ranging interview that was taped Friday and broadcast Sunday. Trump said the subject of Khashoggi “didn’t come up” when he and the crown prince spoke last Thursday, largely about Iran.
Trump said the Middle East is a “vicious, hostile place” and that Iran and other countries in the region are also guilty of the type of behaviour Saudi Arabia has been accused of engaging in.
Khashoggi was killed, and believed to have been dismembered by Saudi agents, inside the consulate on Oct. 2. His remains have never been found.
The president declined last year to penalize Saudi Arabia over the killing. Khashoggi had been living in the U.S. at the time of his death.
WATCH: Evidence suggests Saudi Crown Prince is liable for Khashoggi murder: U.N. expert
Trump said he’s “not like a fool” that will refuse to do business with Saudi Arabia, arguing that the kingdom will turn to U.S. rivals China and Russia if Washington refuses to sell arms to the Saudis.
“Take their money. Take their money,” Trump said.