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Donald Trump doesn’t want to hear Jamal Khashoggi death recording

November 18, 2018

The U.S. is in possession of a tape documenting the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but President Trump doesn’t plan to listen to it.

“We have the tape. I don’t want to hear the tape,” the president said in an interview with “Fox News Sunday,” which was recorded Friday and aired Sunday morning.

“There’s no reason for me to hear the tape because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been briefed on it. There’s no reason for me to hear it,” he continued. “It was very violent, very vicious, and terrible.”

Turkish authorities provided the tape to the Trump administration and to European nations. It reportedly proves that Mr. Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime and a U.S.-based journalist, was killed by Saudis inside the consulate after entering the facility on Oct. 2.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has denied ordering or knowing of the incident beforehand.

But The Washington Post reported Friday night that the CIA believes the crown prince personally ordered the killing. If true, such a move could upend the vital U.S.-Saudi relationship and likely would provide more fuel for American lawmakers who want to see the administration cut off arms sales to Saudi Arabia and take other retaliatory steps.

The White House already has imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis it accused of assisting in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.

While traveling in California on Saturday, Mr. Trump dismissed the report that the CIA had reached any firm conclusions and said the administration soon will release its own findings on the matter.

“They haven’t assessed anything yet. It’s too early,” he told reporters. “That was a very a premature report. But that’s possible we’re going to see. But we’re going to have a report on Tuesday. And it’ll be very complete. 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.”

As for the crown prince’s personal involvement in the killing, Mr. Trump said it will be difficult to prove.

“I don’t know. Who can really know?” the president said. “I can say this: He’s got many people who say he had no knowledge.”

“He told me he had nothing to do with it,” he continued. “He told me that, I would say maybe five times at different points, as recently as a few days ago.”

More broadly, Mr. Trump suggested he won’t let the Khashoggi affair damage the overall relationship between Washington and Riyadh.

“We do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good,” he told Fox News.

Lawmakers said Sunday the U.S should search for more evidence and try and find concrete proof that the crown prince was personally involved.

“I think a smoking gun would certainly help,” Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, told ABC’s “This Week” program.

Others on Capitol Hill said the entire episode is a stark reminder that the U.S. has become too reliant on Saudi Arabia for stability in the Middle East, and that it raises new questions about whether the nation can truly be considered an ally.

“It is certainly testing the proposition that the enemy of our enemy is our friend ... our friends don’t murder journalists,” Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday. “We need to stop placing so much reliance in Saudi Arabia, and in particular on the person of the crown prince.”

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