By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman described slain columnist Jamal Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist in a call with top Donlald Trump administration officials, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
The comments were made during a call with National Security Advisor John Bolton and the president's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner before Riyadh acknowledged it killed Khashoggi, the newspaper reported.
Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, sought to portray Khashoggi as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist group originating in Egypt that has been the focus of criticism for some in the Trump administration, including Bolton.
A Saudi official denied the comments were made.
But the reported comments, if true, stand in stark contrast to public statements made by the kingdom as it produced a shifting narrative over Khashoggi's disappearance before ultimately acknowledging he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul amid international outcry.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News that Khashoggi's death was a "terrible mistake" while simultaneously lamenting the "terrible tragedy."
"This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had. They made the mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi in the consulate and they tried to cover up for it," he said.
Reports had indicated the kingdom was planning to blame Khashoggi's death on rogue agents before it ultimately acknowledged he was killed in the consulate.
Saudi Arabia has yet to explain its shifting narrative on Khashoggi's disappearance, nor has Riyadh produced his body after several reports said he was dismembered in the diplomatic facility.
The Istanbul Prosecutor's Office said Khashoggi was strangled to death "in a premeditated way" shortly after he entered the consulate to obtain documents for his pending nuptials, adding that his body was disposed of after being dismembered.
Senior U.S. lawmakers, including Senator Lindsey Graham, have scoffed at suggestions anyone besides bin Salman could have signed off on the operation.