Trump scrambles to cover for Saudi regime as crisis over Khashoggi murder mounts
19 October 2018
Following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s emergency talks in Riyadh and Ankara, and amid mounting reports implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration is scrambling to shield Washington’s closest ally in the Arab World.
On Thursday, Trump continued to suggest that Prince Mohammed and his father, King Salman, may have had nothing to do with the disappearance and evident torture and murder of Khashoggi on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. However, after being debriefed by Pompeo following the latter’s talks with Prince Mohammed and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Trump told reporters it appeared that Khashoggi was dead.
The official line is that Pompeo secured a pledge from the Saudi leadership to hold accountable anyone found in the course of the regime’s own investigation to have played a role in Khashoggi’s disappearance. On that fraudulent basis, Pompeo advised Trump to give Riyadh several more days to provide an accounting, after which the White House will decide its response.
Meanwhile, unnamed Turkish officials and the pro-Erdogan newspaper Yeni Safak reported Wednesday on the contents of what they claim is an audio recording of the events that transpired in the Istanbul consulate following Khashoggi’s entering the building on the afternoon of October 2. The 60-year-old self-exiled Saudi national and resident of Virginia in the US, who went from being a regime insider to a Washington Post columnist and critic of the new crown prince, ostensibly went to the consulate to obtain documents in advance of his impending wedding to a…