Khashoggi murder: Trump says there is 'no reason' for him to listen to audio of journalist's killing

US leader says journalist's death was 'very violent, very vicious and terrible'

Zamira Rahim
Sunday 18 November 2018 16:08
President Trump on whether Mohammed bin Salman lied about Khashoggi knowledge: 'He told me he had nothing to do with it'

Donald Trump has said that there is “no reason” for him to listen to an audio recording of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Mr Trump confirmed the US has the recording, which was provided by Turkey.

But he told Fox News Sunday: “I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape.”

When asked why, Mr Trump called the recording a “suffering tape” and said he knows “everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it”.

The president said that what happened to Khashoggi at the consulate on 2 October was “very violent, very vicious and terrible”.

A US official said that American intelligence agencies have concluded that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.

The Saudi government denies the allegations.

Mr Trump earlier said that a CIA assessment, which concluded that that the crown prince was responsible, is “very premature” but “possible”.

He also said that he will receive a full report into The Washington Post columnist’s death on Tuesday.

According to the president, the report will include a conclusion as to who the US government believes was responsible for the killing, which Mr Trump said “should never have happened”.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was slain on 2 October inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

He was a frequent critic of the crown prince but Saudi Arabia has denied accusations that the kingdom’s de facto leader had prior knowledge of the murder.

American officials have expressed high confidence in the CIA’s assessment, which is the most definitive to date, according to The Washington Post, which originally reported the story.

The CIA found that 15 Saudi agents flew on government planes to Istanbul and carried out the killing at the Saudi consulate, the report said.

Mr Trump’s remarks, made during a trip to California, came just hours after the US State Department claimed that the government was still working on determining responsibility for Khashoggi’s death.

“Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The killing has caused a diplomatic crisis for the US president, who considers the crown prince a close ally.

”As of this moment we were told that he did not play a role,” he told reporters.

“We’re going to have to find out what they have to say.”

It is unclear who is producing the report the president discussed.

The US leader’s remarks were similar to those of national security adviser John Bolton, who said earlier this week that people who have listened to an audio recording of the killing do not think it implicates Mohammed bin Salman.

Other officials familiar with the case cautioned that while it was likely the prince was involved in the death, there were questions about what role he played.

The CIA has briefed other parts of the US government, including Congress, about its conclusions.

Mr Trump has previously said that Mr Khashoggi’s killers should be held to account, but has also stressed the importance of Washington’s ties with Riyadh, one of the biggest clients of the US defence industry.

The president is aiming to preserve Saudi arms deals, despite growing opposition in Congress.

“They have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development,” he said.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

But US politicians critical of Saudi Arabia are ramping up pressure on the White House to take action over the killing.

“Trump must accept (for once) his intelligence experts’ incontrovertible conclusion: Crown Prince MBS is culpable for Khashoggi’s monstrous murder,” tweeted Richard Blumenthal, a Democratic senator, on Saturday.

“This brazen killing must have consequences – sanctions, prosecution, removal of MBS and others, not continued cover-up, enabled by Trump.”

Additional reporting by agencies

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in