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Deception, Lies, and the Death of Jamal Khashoggi: How Will Trump Respond?

10-22-2018
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President Trump is accusing the Saudis of 'deception' and lies' as their story of what happened to a Washington Post journalist in their consulate in Turkey continues to change.

The Saudis finally admitted Jamal Khashoggi died at the hands of Saudi operatives, but how it happened is still unclear. The president wants answers.

In a phone conversation Sunday evening, President Trump and Turkey's president Recep Erdogan agreed the full details of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi need to come to light. 

Erdogan is set to release details of Turkey's investigation Tuesday.

The latest explanation from the Saudis is being met with doubt. On Fox News, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir denied any involvement by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in the murder.

"There weren't people closely tied to him (Mohammed Bin Salman) that were involved in this operation. There were pictures of some security officers who may have been part of his security detail from time to time," he explained. 
 
"The crown prince has denied this. The crown prince was not aware of this," he went on to say. 

New reports indicate the Saudis used a body double to make it appear as if Khashoggi left the consulate. 

Over the weekend, the Saudis released the details of a preliminary investigation, saying Khashoggi was indeed murdered -- the victim of a fistfight gone wrong.

His colleagues at the Washington Post aren't buying it. "If we're going to give any credence to this, it was a setup and an ambush," Khashoggi's editor Karen Attiah told CNN.  

Members of Congress agree. "The cover stories from the Saudis are a mess. You don't bring a bone saw to an accidental fistfight," said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). 

"It's insulting to anyone who has been analyzing this with any kind of intelligent background to think a fistfight led to a dismemberment with a bone saw," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). 

President Trump expressed his doubts in an interview with the Washington Post saying, "Obviously there's been deception and there's been lies," but stopping short of implicating the crown prince.  

While many critics say all roads lead back to Mohammed Bin Salman, analysts also agree he'll likely escape the blowback, whatever that may be. 

However, some on Capitol Hill suggest a complete overhaul of US-Saudi relations.

"I feel certain the crown prince was involved and he directed this and that's why I think we cannot continue to have relations with him," said Paul. 

"I think that sanctions don't go far enough, I think we really need to look at the arms sales. This is not just about this journalist being killed, this is about the war in Yemen where tens of thousands of civilians are being killed. It's about them spreading hatred of Christians and Jews and Hindus," he continued.  

Congressman Adam Schiff, D-CA agrees. "I think this ought to be a relationship-altering situation for the US and Saudi Arabia, that we ought to suspend military sales," he said. 

But others caution, saying the president needs to hold Saudi Arabia accountable while still protecting a vital ally.

"I would ask the president to try to thread the needle here…but still not hurt ourselves because the Saudis do provide very effective intelligence," said Congressman Peter King, R-NY.  

 

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