The Trump administration denied on Saturday that it had reached a final determination about Jamal Khashoggi, whose murder in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey was ordered by the kingdom's crown prince, according to a USA official has said.
The Post, citing people familiar with the matter, said the CIA's assessment was based in part on a phone call the crown prince's brother, Prince Khaled bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi.
Trump was asked during a "Fox News Sunday" interview whether the crown prince had lied to him.
President Donald Trump earlier spoke with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Central Intelligence Agency chief Gina Haspel via telephone from Air Force One as he traveled to California to meet with people affected by deadly wildfires, said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Trump then went on to hail Saudi Arabia as a "great ally", saying "they give us a lot of jobs and a lot of business and economic development".
In Sunday's interview, he reiterated his commitment to "stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good".
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government and a columnist for the Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 when he went there to pick up documents he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.
"We'll be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday", President Trump said Saturday. "It's a bad tape", Trump told Fox News Sunday in a White House interview that was taped Friday.
Trump said he hasn't listened to it, as he was advised not to hear the "suffering tape", according to the news channel.
The murder of Khashoggi, who was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, has posed a diplomatic headache for the president: how to admonish Riyadh for the killing and maintain ties with a key ally in the Middle East.
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Spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington Fatimah Baeshen denies the claims. Their motive is the same as the Post's reporters': to reflect badly on the Trump administration, which (like prior administrations) is friendly to the Saudis, and to constrain President Trump's freedom of action with regard to Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has called on Saudi Arabia to "shed full clarity" on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist of Saudi origin.
He said he had never suggested Khashoggi - who had been in London for a conference until the day before his disappearance - should go to Turkey for any reason. This week, the Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 people and sentenced five to death following its investigation.
"Recent reports indicating that the U.S. government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
The top prosecutor in Saudi Arabia announced he will seek the death penalty against five men suspected in the killing.
Trump's comments came as Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said Khashoggi's killers may have taken his dismembered body out of Turkey three or four hours after the murder.
"Amb Prince Khalid bin Salman has never had any phone conversations with (Khashoggi)", the statement posted on the ambassador's Twitter account said. After that, they communicated via text messages, she said. The president also never fails to mention that Saudi Arabia is a USA ally - called it a "spectacular ally" on Saturday.
"I'll be speaking also with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo".
U.S. President Donald Trump visits the Skyway Villa Mobile Home and RV Park, a neighborhood recently destroyed by the Camp Fire, in Paradise, California, US, November 17, 2018.
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