Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, blasted President Trump for publicly doubting the CIA’s determination that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was “directly involved” in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Asked Friday on CNN if the president was lying when he insisted that U.S. intelligence officials just “have feelings about certain things” in an attempt to cast doubt on their conclusion that Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s assassination, Reed responded, “Yes.”
He added, “The CIA concluded that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was directly involved in the assassination of Khashoggi. They did it, as has been reported to the press, with high confidence, which is the highest level of accuracy that they will vouch for. It’s based on facts. It’s based on analysis. The notion that they didn’t reach a conclusion is just unsubstantiated. The CIA has made that clear.”
Trump insisted Thursday that “the CIA points it both ways” after reports emerged last week that the CIA has concluded with a high degree of certainty that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump accused the press of “false reporting.”
“As I said, ‘Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.’ But I will say very strongly that it’s a very important ally. And if we go by a certain standard we won’t be able to have allies with almost any country,” he said. “The CIA doesn’t say they did it. They do point out certain things. And pointing out those things, you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn’t.”
“They didn’t conclude. They did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings certain ways. … Nobody’s concluded,” he added. “I don’t know if anyone’s going to be able to conclude that the crown prince did.”
Asked who should be held accountable for the killing, Trump told reporters, “Maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a very, very vicious place.”
Asked why he believes Trump is supporting the Saudi regime, Reed responded, “I think he feels that he has an arrangement with the Saudis in terms of the region, where they will act on behalf of their own interests but he hopes for the United States’ interests.”
Reed noted that the president has emphasized a “wildly exaggerated” financial benefit to stay on good terms with the Saudis.
The president also “probably has had business relationships” and “might even be thinking in the future of business relationships with the Saudis,” said Reed. “So he’s put himself in a compromised position.”