Foreign Policy

Trump Still Struggling With Saudi Role In Khashoggi's Death

The CIA is reportedly pointing a finger at Saudi Arabia's crown prince for the death of Khashoggi, but President Trump seems reluctant to agree.

Trump Still Struggling With Saudi Role In Khashoggi's Death
Getty Images / Alex Wong

It's been more than a month since Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

And the CIA reportedly believes the Saudi government at its highest levels was involved — namely Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince.

Not everyone's on board with that conclusion, though. U.S. President Donald Trump's been particularly reluctant to blame the crown prince.

"We're talking about a killing. We're not talking about anything else, we're talking about a killing. So who did it?" Trump said while in California over the weekend. 

So what gives? Well, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have, historically, had pretty close ties.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman

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While the relationship was primarily one born of energy needs — Saudi Arabia has for years been one of the top suppliers of oil to the U.S. — it also developed geopolitical importance after the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.

There's also the fact that Trump's relationship with Saudi Arabia has been … closer than previous administrations, especially considering his family's business ties to the government.

"We've become very good friends over a fairly short period of time," Trump said during a meeting with the crown prince in the Oval Office.

Given this, it's not surprising that Trump would prefer to avoid rattling the kingdom's leadership. 

But Trump's also facing a lot of resistance from Congress — even his typical allies like Lindsey Graham have spoken out about the crown prince.

"If he is going to be the face and the voice of Saudi Arabia going forward, I think the kingdom will have a hard time on the world stage,” Sen. Graham said during an interview on NBC.

This doesn't necessarily mean Salman is going anywhere. According to reporting from The Washington Post, the CIA says the general agreement is that he is likely to survive and his role as the future king is still taken for granted. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.