While President Trump has been adamant about reserving judgment on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance until after an investigation is completed, Rudy Giuliani told The Washington Post on Wednesday that many senior members of the administration concluded last week that the Saudis ordered Khashoggi murdered.
Khashoggi disappeared from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, and Turkey says it has clear evidence he was murdered inside the building by 15 Saudi agents. The purported proof includes an audio recording of Khashoggi being killed and dismembered, and U.S. officials have said privately they do not doubt this account, the Post reports. There is no definitive proof that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing, but there's also no reason to think he did not plan the operation, U.S. officials said.
The Trump administration and Saudi royal family are now trying to come up with an explanation for what happened that does not implicate the crown prince, the Post reports. U.S. intelligence reportedly discovered before Khashoggi's disappearance that the crown prince was trying to lure him from his home in Virginia to Saudi Arabia, and Khashoggi told friends he did not trust overtures he was receiving from people inside the Saudi government.
Trump speculated earlier this week that "rogue killers" were behind Khashoggi's suspected death, and on Wednesday he became defensive, telling reporters he's "not giving cover" to bin Salman. Giuliani, Trump's adviser and lawyer, told the Post that "the only question is, was it directed from the crown prince or the king — or was it a group that was trying to please him?" He added, "I know the bloom is off the rose with the crown prince." Catherine Garcia