US President Donald Trump has said the CIA did not conclude that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi was killed on 2 October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
US officials have reportedly said that such an operation would have needed the prince’s approval. But Saudi Arabia maintains it was a “rogue operation”.
Central Intelligence Agency has heard a “smoking gun phone call” of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with an alleged instruction to “silence Jamal Khashoggi as soon as possible.”
When asked about the recording by reporters in Florida, U.S. President Donald Trump said, “I don’t want to talk about it. You’ll have to ask them.” The CIA declined to comment when asked about the report.
“There is talk of another recording,” Hurriyet newspaper journalist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote in a column, saying the purported call took place between Prince Mohammed and his brother, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington.
After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh said last week Khashoggi had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.
Trump said the CIA had not definitively concluded that the crown prince was responsible, and said he would stand by Saudi Arabia’s leadership because it was a key U.S. ally.
“We want low oil prices and Saudi Arabia has really done a good job in that respect,” Trump said. “I hate the crime. I hate what’s done. I hate the cover up. And I tell you what: the crown prince hates it more than I do,” Trump said, without providing further detail.