Trump in lock-step with Saudi leadership in distrust of CIA

A high-ranking Saudi official claimed Saturday that the CIA cannot be trusted to come to a fair conclusion on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi — an unfavorable view of United States intelligence that has repeatedly been put forth by President Donald Trump.

“The CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, a senior member of the royal family, told journalists in Abu Dhabi, according to Reuters. “The examples of that are multitude.”

The comments came about a week after it was reported that the CIA concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the dissident journalist’s killing — and days after Trump disregarded those findings and announced he would continue to strongly support the kingdom regardless of its culpability.

The negative view of American intelligence expressed by the senior Saudi prince Saturday — which included a suggestion that the entire agency should “be on trial” — echoes that of Trump, who has challenged his own agencies’ assessments throughout his presidency.

Related: President Trump holds a rally in Southaven, Mississippi

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President Trump holds a rally in Southaven, Mississippi
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U.S. President Donald Trump rallies supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump rallies supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
People bow their heads in prayer before U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
People look on during a Make America Great Again rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Brad Parscale, Trump 2020 re-election campaign manager, stands for the national anthem as U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S., October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A woman bows her head in prayer before U.S. President Donald Trump rallies with supporters during a Make America Great Again rally in Southaven, Mississippi, U.S. October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump speaks during a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (L) stands on stage with US President Donald Trump at a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump attend a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump arrives at a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump attend a 'Make America Great Again' rally at Landers Center in Southaven, Mississippi, on October 2, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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One of the most notable examples of this has been the doubt Trump has repeatedly cast on the conclusion that Russia meddled in the 2016 election with the goal of helping him to the presidency.

He has railed against investigators looking into that interference and in a number of public statements seemed to accept Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials of wrongdoing, including during a joint press conference following the Helsinki summit in July.

“My people came to me, [Director of Nat’l Intelligence] Dan Coats came to me, some others, they said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said at the press conference. “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Like al-Faisal, Trump has also made vague calls for members of American intelligence he perceives as opponents to be investigated or prosecuted, including former FBI director James Comey, who led the Russia probe until his dismissal in 2017.

Related: President Trump signs the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act

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US President Donald Trump signs the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Mike Pence arrives to introduce US President Donald Trump during a signing ceremony for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (L) watches an air assault exercise with Army Major General Walter Piatt at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. - Trump spoke at a signing ceremony for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a signing ceremony for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Mike Pence introduces US President Donald Trump during a signing ceremony ceremony for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump holds the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 after signing it at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump leaves after signing the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Troops listen while US President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a signing ceremony for the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York, on August 13, 2018. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
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Trump’s disregard for the CIA’s conclusions about the Khashoggi killing has drawn widespread criticism in the U.S.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist critical of Riyadh, disappeared in October after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The Saudis presented shifting stories about the disappearance before admitting that he was killed there, while maintaining that the crown prince had no involvement.

Trump on Tuesday released a stunning statement siding with the Saudis, not just disputing whether MBS ordered the killing or not, but suggesting that it wouldn’t matter if he did.

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Trump said. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”

A day later, he credited Saudi Arabia in a tweet that praised lower oil prices ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

 

 

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