Top Democrats US accuse Trump of lying about CIA’s Jamal Khashoggi report

Jamal Khashoggi (image ©️📷reuters)

Annews24,Senior Democrats in Congress have accused Donald Trump of lying about the CIA’s findings on the involvement of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said on Sunday it was false for Trump to claim the CIA “did not come to a conclusion” on whether Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of the dissident journalist.

“I think the president is being dishonest with the American people,” Schiff told CNN’s State of the Union. He said he had been briefed by the CIA on the agency’s assessment of Khashoggi’s killing, which reportedly concluded that Prince Mohammed was directly involved.

Schiff’s remark followed similar comments from Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, who said on Friday Trump was lying about the CIA’s findings. On Sunday, Senator Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, also contradicted the president’s comments.

Khashoggi, a frequent critic of Prince Mohammed, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. The Saudi government has given contradictory explanations but consistently denied high-level involvement.

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Trump has been sharply criticised for his passive response. The president said repeatedly on Thursday that, contrary to media reporting that cited senior intelligence officials, the CIA had not found Prince Mohammed responsible.

“They didn’t conclude,” Trump told reporters in Florida. “No, no, they didn’t conclude. I’m sorry. No, they didn’t conclude. They did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings certain ways. I have the report … they have not concluded, I don’t know if anyone’s going to be able to conclude the crown prince did it.”

Reed, the senior Democrat on the Senate armed services committee, answered “yes” on Friday when asked by CNN if Trump was lying.

“The CIA concluded that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia was directly involved in the assassination of Khashoggi,” he said.

Reed said the CIA had “high confidence” in its assessment.

“It’s based on facts, it’s based on analysis,” he said. “The notion that they didn’t reach a conclusion is just unsubstantiated. The CIA has made that clear.”

Trump’s unflinching support for Prince Mohammed has caused disquiet among some Republicans. Lee, a conservative, said on Sunday the killing should prompt an overhaul in the US-Saudi relationship including a withdrawal of support for military action in Yemen.

“I disagree with the president’s assessment,” Lee told NBC’s Meet the Press. “It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen … the intelligence I’ve seen suggests that this was ordered by the crown prince.

Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, said Prince Mohammed had “contributed to murdering somebody abroad” and urged the administration to be strong enough to tell the truth.

Making the realist case is a different thing than being so weak that we failed to tell the truth,” Sasse told Fox News Sunday. Another Republican senator, Joni Ernst of Iowa, told CNN Congress should take “further action” against Saudi Arabia if Prince Mohammed is shown to have been involved in the murder. Last month the US imposed sanctions on 17 Saudis alleged to be connected to the killing.

Schiff said that the House intelligence committee, which he is expected to chair from January, will investigate Trump’s business connections with influential Saudis in addition to long-promised inquiries into his financial ties with Russia.

Trump has cited a desire to protect US-Saudi economic relations in explaining his reluctance to respond forcefully to Khashoggi’s killing. But he has falsely claimed to have no personal business interests with Saudis. Schiff said Trump’s response to the Khashoggi murder signalled to despots that “they can murder people with impunity and that this president will have their back as long as they praise him, as long as they do business with him potentially”.