President Trump insisted that he raised the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his meeting on Saturday with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, CNN reported.
“I did mention it to him very strongly,” Trump told reporters when asked about the murder. “That was a bad event.”
“I asked him what was happening,” he added.
Trump’s comments came while at a press conference at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Japan. The president told reporters Friday that he was “extremely angry and very unhappy” about Khashoggi’s killing, but claimed that “nobody has directly pointed a finger” at bin Salman, CNN reported.
The CIA and a United Nations report implicated bin Salman in Khashoggi’s murder, accusing him of authorizing the killing.
Asked about the CIA’s determination that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder, Trump said he “cannot comment on intelligence.”
“We can declassify,” Trump said. “The truth is, I don’t want to talk about intelligence.”
Trump defended his relationship saying of the Saudi Crown Prince, “I get along with Mohammed.”
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was critical of bin Salman and the Saudi government, was killed by Saudi operatives in October after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
While Riyadh initially claimed ignorance of the killing, the country’s attorney general later backtracked, acknowledging that Khashoggi was murdered and the killing was premeditated.
There was an independent investigation by a United Nations (UN) human rights expert and it recommended a probe into bin Salman in connection with the murder. The investigation cited “credible evidence” supporting Saudi Arabia’s responsibility for the “deliberate, premeditated execution” of Khashoggi.
Bin Salman has continued to deny any role in the killing.
While several lawmakers believe it is certain that bin Salman is behind Khashoggi’s murder, Trump has instead underscored the benefits of the U.S.’s relationship with the Saudi kingdom. Trump praised the prince Friday as “a friend of mine.”