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Saudi praises ‘prudent’ Trump stance on MBS role in Khashoggi death

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Saudi Arabia has praised the “prudent” Trump administration for its stance on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, which has seen the president and other senior figures help Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman avoid any blame.

The quote appeared in a statement published by the official Saudi Press Agency on Sunday: “The Kingdom appreciates the prudent position taken by the United States Government and its institutions regarding the recent developments.”

Saudi Arabia was responding to a motion passed by the US Senate, which broke ranks with President Donald Trump to directly blamed Crown Prince Mohammed for ordering the murder, a stance reportedly backed up by the CIA.

While praising Trump, the Saudi statement called the US Senate motion “baseless,” and characterized it as “blatant interference” in its domestic politics.

Jared Kushner didn’t name Mohammed bin Salman when speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News on December 10, 2018.
Fox News

By contrast, Trump and his most senior aides have offered comfort for Crown Prince Mohammed even as damning headlines stacked up.

In October, Trump said in an interview “I hope that the king and the crown prince didn’t know about” the killing.

A few weeks later Trump prevaricated on who could have been to blame, saying of Crown Prince Mohammed “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t” know about the killing.

Trump has compared the media’s pursuit of the story to accusations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and has suggested that “maybe the world should be held accountable.

Last week Jared Kushner also studiously avoided mentioning the crown prince’s name when Fox News host Sean Hannity asked him about the murder last week. Kushner framed the killing as a distraction which was getting in the way of broader US ambitions in the Middle East.

Read more: Here’s everything we know about the troubling disappearance and death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied that Crown Prince Mohammed was involved in Khashoggi’s death, even as it changed other elements of its narrative around exactly what happened when he died.

Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Saudi journalist.
Reuters

The Kingdom maintains that his death at the hands of Saudi agents in the country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, was a rogue operation.

18 people have been charged with involvement, five of whom could be put to death if found guilty.

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