US President Donald Trump says he has been fully briefed on an audio recording of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 but does not want to listen to it himself.
“Because it’s a suffering tape. It’s a terrible tape,” he said in an interview with the US TV program Fox News Sunday. “It was very violent, very vicious and terrible.”
Trump refrained from blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, even though the US Central Intelligence Agency reportedly concluded that the prince ordered the assassination.
Trump on Saturday told reporters that the US would release “a very full report” on the matter as early as Monday.
Asked whether the crown prince had lied to him when he denied having any role in the killing, Trump said: “I don’t know. Who can really know? But I can say this, he’s got many people … that say he had no knowledge.”
The president added, “He told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points, as recently as a few days ago.”
However, Trump acknowledged that people close to the prince “were probably involved” but added, “I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.”
Asked whether he would support moves in the US Congress to cut off American involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen or stop arms sales to the kingdom, Trump said, “I want to see Yemen end. It takes two to tango and Iran has to end also. I want Saudi to stop but I want Iran to stop also.”
The United States has called for a ceasefire and peace talks to end the three-year-old conflict amid a growing international outcry over massive civilian casualties.
– With reporting from Agence France-Presse