US president says he has been briefed on contents
Donald Trump says 'no reason' for him to hear Khashoggi death tape
President Donald Trump said there was no need for him to listen to an audio recording of the “very violent, very vicious” killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The alleged tape, which has put Mr Trump in a diplomatic bind with close ally Saudi Arabia, was said to be supplied by Turkey, where the murder took place.
“I’ve been fully briefed on it. There’s no reason for me to hear it,” he said in a television interview. “I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it.”
Mr Trump said that the audio recording would not affect his response to the October 2 killing of Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post.
On Saturday the Trump administration said it would release their own report on the case by tomorrow, including the perpetrator’s identity. They did not say if it would be made public.
On Monday, Germany said it had imposed travel bans on 18 Saudis suspected of involvement in the killing. The foreign ministry said the ban was imposed in co-ordination with France and Britain, but did not name the people sanctioned.
The US last week imposed sanctions on 17 people over the killing, including a former adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir has rejected claims that the crown prince had anything to do with the killing.
Mr Trump said Prince Mohammed repeatedly denied involvement in the killing inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
“Will anybody really know?” he asked. “At the same time, we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.”
A Republican member of the Senate intelligence committee said that so far, there was no “smoking gun” linking the crown prince to the killing.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who has received a confidential intelligence briefing on the matter, told ABC: “I don’t know that we absolutely know that yet.”
He said that Congress would await the Trump administration’s report in the next two days and that the US would need to be clear about the ramifications of sanctions, given Saudi Arabia’s strategic role in the Middle East.
“The United States government is determined to hold all those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable,” the US State Department said.
“Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate. There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr Khashoggi.”