Trump speaks with CIA about Khashoggi killing, says there will be a report by Tuesday

Trump speaks with CIA about Khashoggi killing, says there will be a report by Tuesday
State Department says reports about final conclusion on Khashoggi are inaccurate
WASHINGTON — The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials.

The C.I.A. made the assessment based on the crown princes control of Saudi Arabia, which is such that the killing would not have taken place without his approval, and has buttressed its conclusion with two sets of crucial communications: intercepts of the crown princes calls in the days before the killing, and calls by the kill team to a senior aide to the crown prince.

Trump has bragged about making tens of millions of dollars in real estate sales to Saudi interests. Those business relationships to the kingdom are ongoing, and Trump has refused to erect a barrier between his duties to the country and his wallet. Like his old buddies in the professional wrestling world, Trump has looked to avoid upsetting those profitable relationships by tempering what might have been a more forceful official response from a different administration.

The C.I.A. has believed for weeks that Prince Mohammed was culpable in Mr. Khashoggis killing but had been hesitant to definitively conclude that he directly ordered it. The agency has passed that assessment on to lawmakers and Trump administration officials.

The CIA has concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) personally ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul earlier this fall, the Washington Post reported Friday. But Trump said the US intelligence agency hasn’t told him so personally yet, and continued to withhold judgment in a brief exchange with reporters on the White House lawn Saturday.

US will hold Khashoggi killers to account, VP Pence says

The change in C.I.A. thinking came as new information emerged, officials said. The evidence included an intercept showing a member of the kill team calling an aide to Prince Mohammed and saying tell your boss that the mission was accomplished. Officials cautioned, however, that the new information is not direct evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the assassination, which was carried out in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

He also denied reports his administration is considering plans to kidnap Erdogan critic Fetulleh Gulen from his Pennsylvania residence and ship him off to Turkey to be punished by the regime — an idea the Turks first tried to plant in his brain via then-senior adviser Michael Flynn in the closing stages of the 2016 campaign.

The intercepts do show that Prince Mohammed was trying to find ways to lure Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, although the crown prince did not specifically say in the phone calls that he wanted to have Mr. Khashoggi killed, according to people briefed on the intelligence findings.

One former official said intelligence agencies were also examining communications between Mr. Khashoggi and the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman, the brother of the crown prince.

The Saudis’ choice to kill the critic inside Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey further complicates the dance facing U.S. foreign policy actors, as Erdogan’s tilt toward authoritarianism over the past half-decade overlays Turkey’s key role in international attempts to resolve the civil war in Syria.

Jamal Khashoggis Murder is Playing Out as Expected

Prince Khalids denial was unusually swift. In a Twitter post on Friday, he said that the last contact he had with Mr. Khashoggi was by text on Oct. 26, 2017, and that he never suggested that Mr. Khashoggi go to Turkey.

Vice President Mike Pence vowed Saturday the United States would hold the murderers of Jamal Khashoggi to account, following media reports that the CIA had concluded the Saudi Crown Prince was behind the journalists killing.

I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason, he tweeted.

And it would threaten to further fray relations between Washington and key ally Riyadh, which has sought to end discussion of the murder and rejected calls for an international investigation.

Video: CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggis death, official says

The C.I.A.s assessment was first reported Friday by The Washington Post. A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment.

If confirmed, the U.S. assessment would directly contradict the conclusions of a Saudi prosecutor a day earlier, which exonerated the prince of involvement in the brutal murder.

The increasingly definitive assessment from the spy agency creates a problem for President Trump, who has tied his administration to Prince Mohammed and proclaimed him the future of Saudi Arabia, a longtime American ally.

But the new assessment by the C.I.A. is sure to harden the resolve of lawmakers on Capitol Hill to continue to investigate the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and punish Saudi Arabia.

Jared Kushner, the presidents son-in-law and senior adviser, has been particularly close to Prince Mohammed. Mr. Kushner has long advocated that a strong relationship with the Saudis is in the United States interest, and he has pushed to maintain support for the crown prince despite the death of Mr. Khashoggi, who Saudi officials now say was killed with a lethal dose of tranquilizers and dismembered. Previously, Saudi officials said that Mr. Khashoggi had been strangled.

Neither administration officials nor intelligence officers believe the controversy over Mr. Khashoggi will drive Prince Mohammed from power, which is one reason White House officials believe cutting ties with the prince would not be in the interest of the United States.

“In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the princes brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence,” the Post said in a piece.

Video: Jamal Khashoggis Istanbul funeral prayers

It is one of those acts that must cause us to re-examine the relationship and how much dependence we place on it, said Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who is set to lead the House Intelligence Committee next year.

Pence vows US will hold Khashoggi murderers to account

Senate Republicans, according to people briefed on their deliberations, want to see more decisive steps from Saudi Arabia to try to defuse the crisis. One move that could blunt tougher congressional action, they said, would be for Riyadh to release some dissidents, including the leaders of the effort to allow Saudi women to drive.

After weeks of denying any involvement in the crime, Saudi Arabia later admitted that Khashoggi had been killed inside the consulate but claimed the Saudi royal family had no prior knowledge of any plot to murder the journalist.

Video: Khashoggi update: A funeral in Istanbul without a body | DW News

Trump says reports that CIA has tied Saudi prince to Khashoggi murder are premature

Lawmakers are hoping to use the controversy over the assassination to try to force an end to the Saudi war in Yemen, or at least the American military support for it.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman ordered the assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post reported late Friday.

The United States has already announced that it would end air-refueling flights for the Saudi Air Force over Yemen, and it has sanctioned 17 Saudis for their alleged involvement in the killing of Mr. Khashoggi.

The CIA has “high confidence” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, drawing upon evidence from a phone call between bin Salmans brother and Khashoggi, officials first told The Washington Post. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 17 Saudis “involved in” Khashoggis murder earlier this week, but this is furthest the U.S. has gone toward implicating Saudi Arabia for the crime, especially considering bin Salman is close with President Trumps son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia once said the murder was a predetermined rogue operation, but shifted to say it was a random killing when announcing charges against 11 alleged perpetrators earlier this week. A spokeswoman for Americas Saudi consulate said the CIAs claims in its “purported assessment are false.” [The Washington Post, The New York Times]

Mr. Schiff said the Trump administrations move to cut off refueling for Saudi planes conducting airstrikes is more significant than the sanctions.

CNN reporter Jim Acosta returned to the White House on Friday after a judge mandated President Trumps administration restore his press pass. The White House revoked Acostas hard pass after a contentious exchange with Trump last week, prompting a lawsuit from CNN. But Judge Timothy J. Kelly, who was appointed by President Trump, said the White House did not provide Acosta with due process in its decision. The suit hasnt been completely decided, but the judge did grant CNNs request for a temporary restraining order that will allow Acosta to return to work. The judge also said the White House could still move again to revoke the pass if it provides Acosta with due process. Several media organizations, including Fox News, said earlier this week they would file amicus briefs in support of CNNs claim. [CNN, The Washington Post]

If we truly want to affect Saudi behavior, it is going to be more important to focus on bringing an end to the campaign in Yemen than these announcements of sanctions on these individuals we are unlikely to be able to reach, he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended an inspection of what state media there described Friday as an “ultramodern tactical weapon.” This is the first time North Korea has publicly announced a weapons test since November 2017. This does not appear to be a nuclear device or a long-range missile, seeing as the country previously said it would suspend its nuclear and missile tests. A military expert told CBS News that a “tactical weapon” in North Korea would refer to a “weapon aimed at striking South Korea, including U.S. military bases,” while a South Korean government official told CNN that its likely a “multiple rocket launcher.” Another expert told CNN its probably not a missile, as South Korea would have detected that. The report comes as President Trump plans for a second summit with Kim in 2019. [CNN, CBS News]

Mr. Schiff said he was pushing for a classified briefing for the entire House on the war in Yemen and American support for the Saudi campaign. Congressional Republicans have also said they would support such a briefing.

President Trump in recent weeks has been asking his aides and advisers if they think Vice President Mike Pence is loyal so often, they are getting “alarmed,” advisers tell The New York Times. While Trump has not explicitly told his advisers he wants to drop Pence in 2020, they reportedly think he may be growing “irritated” with the vice president. Aides apparently continue to tell Trump that Pence is loyal, and Trump did reaffirm that Pence would be on his 2020 ticket at a press conference last week. Instead, the Times suggests these ongoing questions could stem from how Trump is reportedly considering replacing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly with Pences Chief of Staff Nick Ayers. White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley later said Trump “absolutely supports the vice president.” [The New York Times]

Skepticism in Congress about the Saudis has grown as Saudi officials have given multiple and conflicting accounts of what happened in the consulate in Istanbul. This week, they announced they would seek the death penalty against some of the perpetrators.

The Department of Education on Friday revealed its plan to bolster the rights of college students accused of sexual assault. The new policy upends Obama-era enforcement of Title IX, which was meant to strengthen the power of sexual assault victims, in favor of what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called “a fair grievance process” that includes a “presumption of innocence” for the accused. Colleges used to have to investigate any reported “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,” but the new policy redefines sexual harassment as conduct “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” that it disrupts a students learning environment. Critics say this will lead to fewer legitimate sexual assault claims receiving proper investigations. The proposal now enters a 60-day comment period. [Department of Education, NPR]

C.I.A. officials have long been unsure about Prince Mohammed and his abilities to lead the kingdom. The agency, and its former director, John O. Brennan, had a close relationship with Prince Mohammeds rival, Mohammed bin Nayef. The young crown prince outmaneuvered his rival in 2017 to consolidate his position.

Thousands visit Mecca to pray for murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Turkish officials made tape recordings of the killing of Mr. Khashoggi in the consulate, and the Turkish government was the first to say that it had definitive proof that Mr. Khashoggi was assassinated.

But Turkish official have stopped short of saying there is definitive evidence of Prince Mohammeds role in the death on the recordings they have.

Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced the leveling of Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act sanctions on seventeen Saudi nationals allegedly involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month. Mnuchin said the right things about justice and accountability, but all indications are that the Trump administration wants to put this matter to rest as quickly as possible, with the barest of consequences for a gruesome crime that shocked Washington and the world.

An earlier version of this article misstated when Prince Khalid bin Salman last communicated with Jamal Khashoggi. It was in October 2017, not this October.

There is no evidence yet that the Khashoggi killing has been leveraged by the United States to other ends. The United States announced last week that it will no longer refuel Saudi coalition warplanes bombing Yemen, but this is not a crippling imposition. America still provides intelligence assistance and weapons to coalition members. The offensive against Hodeidah has been put on hold, but the end of the Saudi portion of the war in Yemen does not appear imminent.

U.S. Spy Agencies Are Increasingly Convinced of Saudi Princes Ties to Journalists DisappearanceOct. 17, 2018Image

U.S. Intelligence reports that Saudi crown prince ordered killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi government denies claims; Kitty Logan reports from London.

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The State Department on Saturday insisted that despite recent reports, the U.S. had not yet reached a determination regarding the death of writer and activist Jamal Khashoggi, and that there remain “numerous unanswered questions.”

The department’s statement came a day after The Wall Street Journal said the CIA had determined that Khashoggi’s death came at the directive of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). That story was first reported on by The Washington Post.

At the same time, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said late on Saturday that US President Donald Trump has discussed the Khashoggi case over the phone with State Secretary Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel in his plane while en route to meet with the people affected by wildfires in California.

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggis assassination

“The United States government is determined to hold all those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable. Recent reports indicating that the U.S. government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in the Saturday statement. “There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts.”

Khashoggi family receives condolences after Riyadh proffers murder culprits


At Khashoggis Symbolic Funeral, An Empty Platform In Place Of Coffin

Separately, a U.S. government official told Fox News that no final assessment or conclusion has been reached, nor has a “smoking gun” been found. Policymakers have been briefed on current intel, the official said.

The Washington Post reports that the CIA has reportedly concluded that the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi was ordered by the Saudi crown prince.

The CIA’s reported conclusion came as a result of “an understanding of how Saudi Arabia works,” a U.S. official with knowledge of the situation told The Journal. Khashoggi’s death “would not and could not have happened” if MBS was not connected, an official told the outlet.

Separately, a government official told Fox News on Friday that the Khashoggi assessment was not a public document and was not aware of plans to make it public. The official said the intelligence has been briefed at very senior levels.

According to Selvi, the recording was made about 15 minutes prior to Khashoggi’s arrival at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, and features the members of “the Saudi team” discussing “how to execute” the journalist.

Khashoggi was killed last month in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey. Saudi Arabia previously claimed that he was killed in a fight.

A second audio recording related to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which was obtained by the Turkish authorities, reveals the premediated nature of this crime, Hurriyet newspaper columnist Abdulkadir Selvi claims.

On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced it was sanctioning 17 Saudi government officials over Khashoggi’s death.

However, new information emerged claiming the slain journalists body was injected with a blood clotting agent in order to prevent bleeding before the body was dismembered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul so as to not leave behind a blood trace of the murder.

President Trump, while aboard Air Force One on Saturday, spoke on the phone with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

The body of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was injected with a blood clotting agent in one of the chilling attempts by the hit squad to cover-up the brutal murder in the Istanbul consulate as more gory details of the case continue to emerge.

President Donald Trump answers questions from members of the media as he leaves the White House, Saturday Nov. 17, 2018, in Washington, en route to see fire damage in California. At far left is White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The CIA believes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, complicating President Donald Trumps efforts to preserve ties with a key U.S. ally.

The president flew to California on Saturday to visit with those affected by the massive and lethal wildfires there. The inferno burning in the northern part of the state has killed at least 71 people. But before he left he spoke to reporters about the Khashoggi story, telling them that when it came to the crown prince, “as of this moment we were told that he did not play a role. We're going to have to find out what they have to say."

According to reports, Turkish investigators found traces of “hydrofluoric acid and other chemicals” inside a well at the Saudi consul generals home in Istanbul, suggesting Khashoggis body was dissolved in acid and other chemicals.

Also on Thursday, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir of Saudi Arabia insisted that the crown prince did not play a role in the Washington Post contributor's death.

01:34 dk 16 Kasım 2018 Anadolu AgencyAbsentee funeral prayer for Khashoggi in IstanbulPeople perform a funeral prayer in absentia for the slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Fatih Mosque in Istanbul on November 16, 2018.

UK to push Saudis for Yemen ceasefire

Fox News Rich Edson, Catherine Herridge, Adam Shaw and Matt Richardson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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