Trump calls CIA assessment of Khashoggi murder premature but possible

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U.S. President Donald Trump walks out from the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to California, November 17, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (reuters_tickers)

By Julia Harte and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON/MALIBU, California (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Saturday called a CIA assessment blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “very premature” and said he will receive a complete report on the case on Tuesday.

Trump, on a trip to California, said the killing “should never have happened.” The report on Tuesday will explain who the U.S. government believes killed Khashoggi and what the overall impact of his murder is, Trump said. It was unclear who is producing the report.

Trump also said the CIA finding that bin Salman was responsible for the killing was “possible.”

Trump made the remarks hours after the State Department said the government was still working on determining responsibility for the death of Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post columnist.

“Recent reports indicating that 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 and work with other countries to hold those involved in the journalist’s killing accountable “while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

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