President Donald Trump was reportedly briefed yesterday on CIA evidence on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but the US State Department has denied it has made any final conclusions in the case.
CIA head Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo related information to President Trump aboard Air Force One during his flight to California, where he visited to survey damage from its surge of wildfires.
Despite reports that the final conclusion would blame Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS), a Hollywood and major tech investor, the State Department issued a statement downplaying that news. “Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” it said. “There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.”
Trump told reporters on Saturday that his information indicated no MBS involvement. “As of this moment, we were told he had not played a role,” Trump said. “We’re going to see what they have to say.”
The Saudi government said Thursday it had charged 11 for Khashoggi’s death.
Reports indicated the CIA monitored a phone call that the prince’s brother, Khalid bin Salman, made to Khashoggi, according to The Washington Post. During that call, Khalid bin Salman assured Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of the regime, that he would be safe to go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents he needed to get married.
A Saudi-backed hit squad flew on a state-owned plane to kill Khashoggi, according to reports, and dismembered him inside the consulate. The resulting international uproar has called into question Saudi Arabia’s investments around the world.