President Donald Trump raised eyebrows after comparing allegations that Saudi Arabian officials authorized the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Speaking to The Associated Press, the president said, "I think we have to find out what happened first. Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned."
The president's comments were immediately criticized.
Apart from confirmation of the grisly details, the whole world knows what the Saudis did to Jamal Khashoggi. Trump… https://t.co/sz0E4aXzqY— Mark Follman (@Mark Follman)1539729214.0
I'm sure Brett Kavanaugh is thrilled to hear Trump suggest that he's just as innocent as those homicidal maniacs in… https://t.co/QfQK2WgmxH— Tommy Vietor (@Tommy Vietor)1539742123.0
My cringes are cringing. https://t.co/yldIiUMvt4— Charlie Sykes (@Charlie Sykes)1539732069.0
Historian Kevin M. Kruse pointed out that Trump's complaints about "guilty until proven innocent" did not extend to the Central Park Five. In fact, Trump claimed that the Central Park Five, four African American juveniles and one Hispanic juvenile who were convicted of a rape and assault they did not commit, were guilty anyway, even though a convicted rapist and murderer already serving a life sentence in prison confessed to the crime and DNA evidence confirmed his guilt.
Trump called for the Central Park Five to get the death penalty before they were proven guilty and then -- after th… https://t.co/w9agVUbEnH— Kevin M. Kruse (@Kevin M. Kruse)1539728650.0
Reporter Nathan McDermott pointed out that Trump's lamentations over Saudi Arabia are "hollow considering he maintains the innocence of people who have actually plead guilty to and been convicted of crimes," as he has in the cases of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former attorney Michael Cohen.
Khashoggi went missing earlier this month. He is believed to be dead, murdered by Saudi operatives while visiting a Saudi consulate in Turkey. Sources familiar with the case told CNN that Khashoggi's murder "was organized by a high-ranking officer with the General Intelligence Presidency, Saudi Arabia's main intelligence service."
The report continues:
One of those sources described the officer as close to the inner circle of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It is unclear whether the crown prince authorized an interrogation, abduction or killing. Several officials CNN spoke with said the mission could not have happened without the direct knowledge of the 33-year-old crown prince, the kingdom's de facto ruler, who is known by his initials "MBS."
A second source said the officer assembled and sent his own team to interrogate Khashoggi. They suspected Khashoggi of having ties to the kingdom's arch rival, Qatar, the source said. There has been no evidence to substantiate Khashoggi had such ties.
Another source told CNN the mission's organizer was not transparent about what he told Riyadh, which, the source said, explained why the government had no clear information for days.
A Turkish official told the network that Khashoggi's body was cut into pieces after he was killed two weeks ago.
Trump further suggested that Khashoggi could have been murdered by "rogue killers," and noted that he'd spoken with Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, both of whom deny any knowledge of Khashoggi's disappearance.