President Donald Trump is refusing to listen to the audio recording from journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and said the CIA’s report implicating Saudi government is ‘premature.’
“I don’t want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape. I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it ... It was very violent, very vicious and terrible,” Trump said during an interview with Fox News Sunday.
The president will review the case details Tuesday, however, he hopes to maintain a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite the tragic torture and murder of the Washington Post journalist last month.
The CIA briefed Trump Friday, revealing their suspicions that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) ordered Khashoggi’s assassination in Istanbul.
Trump said on Saturday that the CIA assessment was “very premature” and in the interview that aired on Sunday, he said it may never be possible to know who ordered Khashoggi’s murder.
“He told me that he had nothing to do with it,” Trump said, adding that “many people” also said the crown prince had no knowledge of the killing.
Despite pressure for stronger action from Democratic and Republican lawmakers, the president continues to show support for his Saudi Arabian counterpart.
“They are an important ally but when it comes to the crown prince, he’s irrational, he’s unhinged and I think he’s done a lot of damage to the relationship (between) the United States and Saudi Arabia. And I have no intention of working with him ever again,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The administration on Thursday imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role in the killing, but they did not target the Saudi government.
U.S. officials are advising a suspension of arms sales to the kingdom and for Trump to cut ties with MbS.