US President Donald Trump on Sunday said that there is no reason for him to listen to a recording of the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In an interview, Trump made clear that the audio recording, supplied by the Turkish government, would not affect his response to the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who had been critical of the Saudi royal family. 'Itís a suffering tape, it's a terrible tape. Iíve been fully briefed on it, there's no reason for me to hear it,' Trump said in the interview with Fox News on Sunday.' ″I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it.'
On Saturday, Trump said his administration will 'be having a very full report over the next two days, probably Monday or Tuesday.Ē He said the report will include ''who did it.' It was unclear if the report would be made public.
American intelligence agencies have concluded that the crown prince ordered the killing in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey, according to a U.S. official familiar with the assessment. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Others familiar with the case caution that while itís likely the crown prince was involved in the death, there continue to be questions about what role he played.
Trump noted to 'Fox News Sunday' that the crown prince has repeatedly denied being involved in the killing inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
'Will anybody really know?' Trump 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.'
Intelligence officials have been providing information to Trump for weeks about the death, and he was briefed again by phone Saturday by CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as he flew to California. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders provided no details of his call but said the president has confidence in the CIA.
'The United States government is determined to hold all those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable,Ē the State Department said in a statement. 'Recent reports indicating that the U.S. government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate. There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.'
The statement added: 'The U.S. government has taken decisive measures against the individuals responsible, including visa and sanctions actions. We will continue to explore additional measures to hold those accountable who planned, led and were connected to the murder. And, we will do that while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.'
Before his call on Air Force One, Trump told reporters 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.' That echoed remarks by national security adviser John Bolton, who said earlier this week that people who have listened to an audio recording of the killing do not think it implicates the crown prince.
Trump has called the killing a botched operation that was carried out very poorly and has said 'the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups.'
But he has resisted calls to cut off arms sales to the kingdom and has been reluctant to antagonize the Saudi rulers. Trump considers the Saudis vital allies in his Mideast agenda.
But members of Congress are pushing Trump for a tougher response to the killing. The administration this past week penalized 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role in the killing, but American lawmakers have called on the administration to curtail arms sales to Saudi Arabia or take other harsher punitive measures.
Turkish and Saudi authorities say Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United States, was killed inside the consulate by a team from the kingdom after he went there to get marriage documents.