- President Donald Trump on Tuesday described the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as one of the worst-ever cover-ups.
- Trump said he’d leave any decision regarding repercussions against Saudi Arabia up to Congress.
- The Saudi foreign minister described the killing as a “cover-up” and a “rogue operation” on Sunday as he sought to distance Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the incident.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday described the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul as one of the worst-ever cover-ups, saying “somebody really messed up” when conceiving of the plan.
“They had a very bad original concept,” Trump said. “It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. Very simple. Bad deal, should have never been thought of.”
“Somebody really messed up,” Trump said. “Whoever thought of that idea, I think is in big trouble.”
Trump also said he’d leave any decision regarding repercussions against Saudi Arabia up to Congress.
“In terms of what we ultimately do, I’m going to leave it very much – in conjunction with me – I’m going to leave it up to Congress,” Trump said.
The president did say, however, that he thought it would be foolish for the US to cease arms sales to Saudi Arabia, citing the billions of dollars the US would lose in the process.
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) October 23, 2018
In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, the Saudi foreign minister portrayed the operation as “rogue” and said it was covered up by the people that went beyond their authority.
“This was an operation that was a rogue operation,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said. “This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had. They made a mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate, and they tried to cover up for it.”
Khashoggi disappeared after entering the consulate on October 2 and Turkish officials accused the Saudis of brutally murdering him.
The Saudi government denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s fate for nearly three weeks, finally acknowledging his death in a statement last Friday. The Saudis claimed Khashoggi died in a fistfight, an assertion that has been met with widespread scepticism.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is suspected of orchestrating the events that led to Khashoggi’s death, but the Saudis have sought to distance him from the incident.
Trump largely stood by the Saudis as they issued denials regarding Khashoggi’s whereabouts. When Khashoggi’s death was officially announced, Trump said he found the Saudi’s narrative credible. But the president has since expressed doubts, though he hasn’t implicated the royal family.