President Donald Trump has blasted the Saudi cover-story for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi as ‘one of the worst’ coverups in history.
Trump made his remarks even as he once again stressed the billions of dollars and U.S. jobs at stake with Saudi Arabia, and for the first time he would let Congress decide how to respond to the alleged murder of the dissident and Washington Post columnist.
‘They had a very bad original concept it was carried out poorly and the coverup was one of the worst in the history of coverups,’ Trump said.
‘It’s very simple. Bad deal, should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up,’ Trump said.
COVER-UP: President Donald Trump has blasted the Saudi cover-story for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi as ‘one of the worst’ coverups in history
But he also said Saudi Arabia had been a ‘great ally’ and a top U.S. investor.
‘They are doing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of investments and, you know, So many jobs,’ he said.
Then he pointed to regional rival Iran, saying they have been ‘vicious, horrible.’
‘And that’s no excuse for what happened with Saudi Arabia. No excuse whatsoever. But you take a look, it’s a rough part of the world. It’s a nasty place. It’s a nasty part of the world,’ Trump said.
Then he added: ‘But, if what happened happened, and if the facts check out, then it’s something that’s very bad.’
Following the arrest of 18 suspects by Saudi Arabia, Trump said the person who ‘thought of’ the idea should be held accountable.
‘Whoever thought of that idea, I think is in big trouble. And they should be in big trouble. Okay?’ he said.
When he stressed the value of arms sales to the Saudis, who are executing a brutal war in Yemen, he said other competitors might seize the opportunity if the U.S. pulled out.
‘China and Russia would love to have that military order,’ Trump said.
Trump’s comments came shortly before Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters the U.S. was revoking visas from Saudis allegedly involved in the Khashoggi killing and that sanctions were being considered.
It was just the latest bad review Trump gave to the Saudi operation – even as he praised the importance of the regime as a key U.S. ally and business partner.
It comes amid claims parts of the writer’s body including his disfigured face have been found in the grounds of the Saudi consul general’s home in Istanbul, with separate reports saying the remains were found down a well at the property.
On Tuesday, Trump said the Khashoggi matter was handled badly by Saudi officials. ‘Bad deal, should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up. And they had the worst cover-up ever,’ Trump said.
The Saudis at first said Khashoggi left the Saudi consulate (he didn’t), then said he died accidentally after a fight with a team of interrogators. Their explanations have yet to account for a team of 15 Saudis that Turkey said carried out the killing on Turkish soil.
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