The Central Intelligence Agency plans to brief US President Donald Trump on the role that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did or did not play in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
‘The CIA is going to be speaking to me today,’ Trump told reporters on Saturday before departing for California to visit victims of the wildfires there.
‘As of this moment, we were told that he [the crown prince] did not play a role; we're gonna have to find out what they have to say,’ Trump added.
CIA Director Gina Haspel went to Turkey in October and briefed the president upon her return. According to the Washington Post, Haspel listened to the audio recordings of Khashoggi's murder during her visit to Turkey.
The newspaper report cited an unnamed source as calling the audio evidence ‘compelling,’ adding that it could put further pressure on the United States to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for Khashoggi's death.
Since then, the CIA has concluded that the crown prince - a close ally of the US president - ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, according to Friday reports from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
The assessment is based on ‘an understanding of how Saudi Arabia works’ rather than ‘smoking gun’ evidence of the crown prince's involvement, a US official familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.
The Saudi government has denied the claim.
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a sharp critic of the crown prince, was killed on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
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