President issues extraordinary statement of support and repeats Saudi claim that murdered journalist was ‘enemy of the state’
Julian Borger in Washington and Martin Chulov in Beirut
Tue 20 Nov 2018
Trump: Saudi Arabia decision about ‘America first’ – video
Donald Trump has expressed his unstinting support for Saudi Arabia and claimed there was “nothing definitive” linking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
In the extraordinary statement issued on Tuesday – which begins with the words “The world is a very dangerous place!” – Trump quotes Saudi officials as describing Khashoggi as an “enemy of the state”.
The 649-word statement appears to be a presidential act of defiance against the CIA, which has reportedly concluded that the Saudi prince ordered the killing, and the Senate, which is considering bipartisan legislation that would suspend weapons sales to Saudi Arabia among other punitive measures.
He told reporters at the White House that the CIA “didn’t make a determination” on the murder, and that they had “nothing definitive” on its perpetrator. The claim is contradicted by multiple reports that the intelligence agency has concluded that Prince Mohammed ordered the hit on the former Saudi insider who had become a persistent critic.
In his written statement, Trump wrote: “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!