President Donald Trump awaited a briefing Saturday coming from the CIA on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after a U.S. official said American intelligence agencies had concluded of which Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing.
The Saudi government has denied of which claim.
“We haven’t been briefed yet. The CIA can be going to be speaking to me today,” Trump told reporters before leaving the White House for a visit to California. “As of This specific moment we were told of which he did not play a role. We’re going to have to find out what they have to say.”
Trump said he will be talking with “the CIA later along with also also lots of others” while he was on Air Force One, along with also also would likely also speak with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In his remarks outside the White House, the president spoke of Saudi Arabia as “a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs along with also also economic development.”
“I have to take a lot of things into consideration” when deciding what measures to take against the kingdom.
Trump’s remarks came as the State Department on Saturday said the U.S. government has not made a final conclusion on who was involved in Kashoggi’s killing.
“Recent reports indicating of which the U.S. government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement. “There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.”
Nauert said the State Department will continue to seek facts along with also also work with various other countries to hold those involved inside the journalist’s killing accountable “while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States along with also also Saudi Arabia.”
The intelligence agencies’ conclusion will bolster efforts in Congress to further punish the close U.S. ally for the killing. The Trump administration This specific past week penalized 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role inside the killing, although American lawmakers have called on the administration to curtail arms sales to Saudi Arabia or take various other harsher punitive measures.
The U.S. official familiar with the intelligence agencies’ conclusion was not authorized to discuss of which publicly along with also also spoke only condition of anonymity Friday. The conclusion was first reported by The Washington Post.
Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat has said the crown prince had “absolutely” nothing to do with the killing.
Vice President Mike Pence told reporters traveling with him at a summit of Pacific Rim nations in Papua completely new Guinea of which he could not comment on “classified information.” He said Saturday “the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity. of which was also an affront to a free along with also also independent press, along with also also the United States can be determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for of which murder.”
The United States will “follow the facts,” Pence said, while trying to find a way of preserving a “strong along with also also historic partnership” with Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived inside the United States, was a columnist for the Post along with also also often criticized the royal family. He was killed Oct. 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish along with also also Saudi authorities say he was killed inside the consulate by a team coming from the kingdom after he went there to get marriage documents.
This specific past week, U.S. intelligence officials briefed members of the Senate along with also also House intelligence committees, along with also also the Treasury Department announced economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials suspected of being responsible for or complicit inside the killing.
Among those targeted for sanctions were Mohammed al-Otaibi, the diplomat in charge of the consulate, along with also also Maher Mutreb, who was part of the crown prince’s entourage on trips abroad.
The sanctions freeze any assets the 17 may have inside the U.S. along with also also prohibit any Americans coming from doing business with them.
Also This specific past week, the top prosecutor in Saudi Arabia announced he will seek the death penalty against 5 men suspected inside the killing. The prosecutor’s announcement sought to quiet the global outcry over Khashoggi’s death along with also also distance the killers along with also also their operation coming from the kingdom’s leadership, primarily the crown prince.
Trump has called the killing a botched operation of which was carried out very poorly along with also also has said “the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups inside the history of cover-ups.”
although he has resisted calls to cut off arms sales to the kingdom along with also also has been reluctant to antagonize the Saudi rulers. Trump considers the Saudis vital allies in his Mideast agenda.
The Post, citing unnamed sources, also reported of which U.S. intelligence agencies reviewed a phone call of which the prince’s brother, Khalid bin Salman, had with Khashoggi. The newspaper said the prince’s brother, who can be the current Saudi ambassador to the United States, told Khashoggi he would likely be safe in going to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents he needed to get married.
The newspaper said of which was not known whether the ambassador knew Khashoggi would likely be killed. although of which said he made the call at the direction the crown prince, along with also also the call was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
Fatimah Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said of which claim was false.
She said in a statement issued to The Associated Press of which the ambassador met Khashoggi in person once in late September 2017. After of which, they communicated via text messages, she said. The last text message the ambassador sent to Khashoggi was on Oct. 26, 2017, she said.
Baeshen said the ambassador did not discuss with Khashoggi “anything related to going to Turkey.”
“Ambassador Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with him,” she said.
“You are welcome to check the phone records along with also also cell phone content to corroborate This specific — in which case, you would likely have to request of which coming from Turkish authorities,” Baeshen said, adding of which Saudi prosecutors have checked the phone records numerous times to no avail.
The ambassador himself tweeted: “The last contact I had with Mr. Khashoggi was via text on Oct. 26, 2017. I never talked to him by phone along with also also certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the U.S. government to Discharge any information regarding This specific claim.”
–Reuters contributed to This specific article.