In a wide-ranging Fox News interview released on Sunday, President Trump said he hadn’t listened to the Khashoggi tape, one day after he praised the US’s relationship with Saudi Arabia in response to reports that the CIA had identified Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman as the mastermind of the plot to kill Jamal Khashoggi. And as speculation about the administration’s ability to hold the Saudis accountable intensified, Trump said the administration will release a “very full report” on the killing on Tuesday, according to BBG.
Trump again denied that the CIA had made a final conclusion as to who is responsible for Khashoggi’s killing, instead insisting that the US “hadn’t assessed anything yet.” In response to the Friday report in the Washington Post, Trump said that information was premature. “It’s too early. That was a very premature report.”
On Saturday, Trump spoke with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA chief Gina Haspel while aboard Air Force One as he traveled to California to meet with people affected by deadly wildfires, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Asked by reporters if the president had confidence in the CIA’s conclusion, Sanders said: “He has confidence in CIA.”
“As of this moment, we were told that he did not play a role, we’re going to have to find out what they say,” Trump told reporters on Saturday before leaving the White House.
While Trump has defended the US’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, others in the administration haven’t been so enthusiastic. On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence referred to Khashoggi’s killing as “an atrocity” and vowed that the kingdom and anybody involved in the killings would be held responsible.