Trump backs Saudis despite CIA report on Khashoggi killing
22 November 2018
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the United States will stand by Saudi Arabia despite reports by the CIA that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have known about the plan to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Trump said US intelligence agencies were still studying the evidence of how Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October and who planned it.
Trump on Tuesday said the United States intends to remain a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia even though Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have known about the plan to kill journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as reports say.
Trump, in a statement issued by the White House, indicated he had no intention of cancelling military contracts with Riyadh, saying, "if we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries."
"Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn't!" Trump said.
On Prince Mohammed’s possible involvement in the Khashoggi plot, Trump said: ‘Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.’
Trump also praised Saudi Arabia for lower oil prices.
Turkey, meanwhile, accused the US of trying to turn a blind eye to the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, and dismissed comments from Donald Trump on the issue as “comic”.
On Wednesday, Numan Kurtulmus, the deputy chairman of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AK party, dismissed Trump’s assessment. “Yesterday’s statement is a comic statement,” he told the state broadcaster TRT Haber.
“It is not possible for an intelligence agency such as the CIA, which even knows the colour of the fur on the cat walking around the Saudi consulate’s garden … to not know who gave this order,” he said. “This is not credible either for US public opinion or the world public opinion.”
But in his remarks outside the White House on Tuesday, Trump also defended Saudi Arabia as a key ally and justified his prioritisation of the trading and defence partnership over tough punishment for the murder as “America first”.
Trump then tweeted on Wednesday morning about falling oil prices and added: “Thank you to Saudi Arabia.” He made no mention of Khashoggi.
“Oil prices getting lower. Great! Like a big Tax Cut for America and the World. Enjoy! $54, was just $82. Thank you to Saudi Arabia, but let’s go lower!” he tweeted.