The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said that he expects President Trump to ultimately accept Saudi Arabia’s denials of the crown prince’s involvement in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
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Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” Sunday, “I think we can see where this is headed. Ultimately the president is going to accept the crown prince’s denials but it’s hard for me to imagine that these orders would have been carried out without the knowledge of” Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“I think this ought to be a relationship-altering event for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia,” Schiff added.
Both Schiff and a fellow committee member, Republican Congressman Peter King, R-NY, who also appeared on “This Week,” said the Saudi’s latest explanation that Khashoggi died in a fight at the country’s consulate in Istanbul early this month is not credible.
The two congressmen also agreed that the U.S. should take action against Saudi Arabia in response to Khashoggi’s death.
“Let me make it clear, I think the Saudis are the most amoral government that we’ve ever had to deal with,” King said.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was critical of the current government, has not been seen since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia initially contended he had left the consulate the same day, but on Friday its government changed its story and said Khashoggi, who has been living in the U.S. and serving as a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed in the consulate after an argument led to a fistfight.
Five top Saudi government officials were fired and 18 Saudi citizens were detained in connection to Khashoggi’s murder, according to the country’s state-run news agency.
On Saturday, President Trump, in a phone interview with the Washington Post, criticized the Saudi government’s explanation for Khashoggi’s death, telling the paper “Obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”
While the president cast doubt on the country’s changing narrative surrounding the columnist’s death, he also told the Post that Saudi Arabia is an “incredible ally” and was undecided on whether the crown prince had a role in Khashoggi’s killing, saying, “Nobody has told me he’s responsible. Nobody has told me he’s not responsible… I haven’t heard either way.”
Schiff told Stephanopoulos on Sunday, “We’re never going to know exactly what took place in terms of the crown prince’s marching orders for this group unless we get a confession from the crown prince, which is not going to happen … We’re never going to have absolutely certainty.”
“It’s for that reason, I think, that the president is going to accept the crown prince’s denials much as he has accepted [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s denials and [North Korean leader] Kim’s denials, so I think that’s the reality,” he said.