President Trump says the United States will remain a "permanent partner" in Saudi Arabia, even though he killed the journalist…
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Updated at 2:25 pm ET
President Trump declared Tuesday that his administration will remain a “permanent partner” in Saudi Arabia, despite the CIA’s assessment that the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman personally approved the death last month of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Maybe he did, and maybe he did not,” said Trump of the Crown Prince’s knowledge of the killing.
The president’s statement indicates that he has no plans to punish the Crown Prince or the Saudi government, although Trump said he is open to considering punishing measures that Congress may require.
The CIA has not publicly commented on its assessment, but according to a person informed of the matter, the intelligence authorities consider that the Crown Prince approved Khashoggi October 2 to kill at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Trump spoke during the weekend with CIA leader Gina Haspel.
Trump noted that his administration has already sanctioned 17 individual Saudis believed to have played a role in Khashoggi’s killing, but he refused to move on and stressed the close strategic and The economic ties they have with Saudi Arabia.
“We can never never know all the facts about the murder of Mr Jamal Khash ugly, “said Trump in a statement. “Our relationship is, in any case, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great alliance in our very important battle against Iran. The United States intends to remain a permanent partner in Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. “
State Secretary Mike Pompeo echoed the hard assessment in remarks on the government department.
“It’s an average, nasty world out there. Especially the Middle East,” said Pompeo. “It is the president’s duty and really the government department’s duty to ensure that we adopt policies as additional US national security.”
Trump suggested that he be open to further sanctions against Saudi Arabia if Congress calls for it, but stressed he would weigh some such actions against US interests as he sees them.
His statement took rapid criticism from Congress Democrats.
“President Trump’s habit of leading murderous foreign dictators across American demand staff is a blow to our democracy that undermines the American ideal,” later said Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., serving in Senate Foreign Affairs and Armed Forces Committees .
“Congress must now stand up with bipartisan decisions to condemn the brutal slaying of Jamal Khashoggi and pass legislation to answer this and other Saudi crimes, Shaheen said.