Trump criticizes rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi




  • In Business/Economy
  • 2018-10-17 04:49:51Z
  • By Zeke Miller, Jonathan Lemire and Catherine Lucey, Associated Press
Trump criticizes rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi
Trump criticizes rush to condemn Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi  

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized rapidly mounting global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the mystery of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi, warning of a rush to judgment and echoing the Saudis' request for patience.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Trump compared the case of Khashoggi, who Turkish officials have said was murdered in the Saudis' Istanbul consulate, to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

"I think we have to find out what happened first," Trump said. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent. I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned."

Trump's remarks were his most robust defense yet of the Saudis, a U.S. ally he has made central to his Mideast agenda. They put the president at odds with other key allies and with some leaders in his Republican Party who have condemned the Saudi leadership for what they say is an obvious role in the case. Trump appeared willing to resist the pressure to follow suit, accepting Saudi denials and their pledge to investigate.

The Oval Office interview came not long after Trump spoke Tuesday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He spoke by phone a day earlier with King Salman, and he said both deny any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

After speaking with the king, Trump floated the idea that "rogue killers" may have been responsible for the disappearance. The president told the AP on Tuesday that that description was informed by his "feeling" from his conversation with Salman and that the king did not use the term.

In Turkey earlier Tuesday, a high-level Turkish official told the AP that police investigators searching the Saudi Consulate had found evidence that Khashoggi was killed there.

Also Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the king and crown prince in Riyadh and said the Saudis had already started a "serious and credible investigation" and seemed to suggest it could lead to people within the kingdom. The secretary of state noted that the Saudi leaders, while denying knowledge of anything that occurred inside the consulate, had committed to accountability "including for Saudi Arabia's senior leaders or senior officials."

Pompeo was heading next to Turkey, where officials have accused the Saudis of using a 15-member team to kill Khashoggi inside the consulate.

Trump said he hoped the Saudis' own investigation of Khashoggi's disappearance would be concluded in "less than a week."

In the meantime, there were signs at home that Trump's party was growing uncomfortable with his willingness to defend the Saudis.

In an interview with Fox News, a prominent Trump ally in the Senate called on Saudi Arabia to reject the crown prince, known as MBS, who rose to power last year and has aggressively sought to soften the kingdom's image abroad and attract foreign investment.

"This guy has got to go," said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, turning to speak to the camera. "Saudi Arabia, if you're listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself."

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who was also a resident of the United States, has been a contributor to The Washington Post and a critic of Saudi leaders, especially Crown Prince Mohammed.

International leaders and business executives are severing or rethinking ties to the Saudi government after Khashoggi's high-profile disappearance. Trump has resisted any action, pointing to huge U.S. weapons deals pending with Saudi Arabia and saying that sanctions could end up hurting the American economy.

He said it was too early to say whether he endorsed other countries' actions. "I have to find out what happened," he said. But his complaint about "guilty until proven innocent" and comparison to the Kavanaugh situation suggested he was giving the Saudis more leeway than other allies.

Khashoggi went to the consulate on Oct. 2 to get documents for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman while his fiancee waited outside. She and Turkish authorities say he never emerged and he has not been heard from since.

Khashoggi, 59, had been living in the U.S. for a year in self-imposed exile and writing columns for the opinion section of the Post.

Trump said Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's trip to attend a Saudi investment conference is still on but could be canceled by Friday depending on what the investigation finds.

"I think we'll also be guided by what other countries are doing," he said.

___

AP Writer Matthew Lee contributed.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Pelosi cancels Afghanistan trip, cites Trump
Pelosi cancels Afghanistan trip, cites Trump 'leak'

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying President Donald Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip.

The Latest: Giuliani aims to clarify collusion comments
The Latest: Giuliani aims to clarify collusion comments

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the special counsel's Russia investigation (all times local):

Trump postpones Pelosi
Trump postpones Pelosi's trip 'due to shutdown' after she called for State of the Union delay

In the increasingly personal standoff between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the president on Thursday said he was postponing her use of a military plane for an official trip to Belgium, and Afghanistan in apparent retaliation for Pelosi asking Trump to delay his State of the

The Latest: Schiff berates Trump for disclosing warzone trip
The Latest: Schiff berates Trump for disclosing warzone trip

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Latest on the partial government shutdown (all times local):

Watchdog: Thousands more children may have been separated
Watchdog: Thousands more children may have been separated

WASHINGTON (AP) - Thousands more migrant children may have been split from their families than the Trump administration previously reported, in part because officials were stepping up family separations long before the border policy that prompted international outrage last spring, a government watchdog said Thursday.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Economy

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.