On Saturday, the president told Washington Post reporters that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies” regarding Khashoggi’s killing. But he also said Saudi Arabia is “an incredible ally” and pushed back against assertions that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered Saudi operatives to kill the reporter.
“Nobody has told me he’s responsible. Nobody has told me he’s not responsible. We haven’t reached that point . . . I would love if he wasn’t responsible,” Trump said.
Trump characterized Saudi Arabia’s explanation for Khashoggi’s killing as “credible,” but defended his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s close relationship with the crown prince amid concerns that it had become a liability for the White House.
“They’re two young guys. Jared doesn’t know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other, I believe,” Trump said.
The president also shot down the possibility that the scandal would disrupt U.S.-Saudi arms sales.
“It’s the largest order in history,” Trump said. “To give that up would hurt us far more than it hurts them. Then all they’ll do is go to Russia or go to China. All that’s doing is hurting us.” He added: “With that being said, something will take place,” though he did not elaborate as to what those actions might be.
Last week, the president raised eyebrows after he compared allegations that Saudi officials had orchestrated the murder of 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.”