President Trump on Friday appeared to accept Saudi Arabia’s explanation that journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in a physical altercation inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
When asked by a reporter at a defense-related event in Arizona if he found the explanation credible, Trump said, “I do. I do.”
“It’s early. We haven’t finished our review or investigation but I think it’s a very important first step. And it happened sooner than people thought it would happen,” Trump added.
“We will be working with Congress,” Trump continued. “But I would prefer if there is going to be some form of sanction or what we may determine to do if anything…But I would prefer that we don’t use as retribution canceling 110 billion dollars worth of work (related to the arms deal).”
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However, the claim by the Saudis has been received with widespread skepticism.
“CIA officials have listened to an audio recording that Turkish officials say proves the journalist was killed and dismembered by a team of Saudi agents inside the consulate, according to people familiar with the matter. If verified, the recording would make it difficult for the White House to accept the Saudi version that Khashoggi’s death was effectively an accident,” notes the Washington Post.
Reacting to the explanation, Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted: “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement.”