Trump stubbornly backs Saudi prince despite pile of Khashoggi evidence -- NYT
U.S. President Donald Trump declared Saudi Arabia a "truly spectacular ally" this past weekend even after the CIA concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, ordered the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the New York Times reported.
Trump seemed to hardened his refusal to concede that the prince had a hand in the crime. He said he would wait for a report on Khashoggi's death from his administration, expected on Tuesday, even as he played down the report's importance before it was issued, suggesting it would fail to determine who was responsible.
“Will anybody really know?” Mr. Trump said in an interview for “Fox News Sunday," the prominent American news outlet reported.
He also expressed little interest in one of the vital pieces of evidence, an audio recording of Mr. Khashoggi’s death in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, which the Turkish government shared with the CIA. Trump said there was no reason for him to listen to the recording because “it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape.”
The president’s remarks illustrated how deeply Mr. Trump has invested in the 33-year-old crown prince, who is crucial to the administration’s strategy in the Middle East — from Iran to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process -- and how stubbornly Trump has decided to stick with his ally.