Trump defends Saudi Arabia despite Khashoggi killing

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may have known about journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing, but he intends to "remain a steadfast partner" with the kingdom.

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!" Trump said in a White House statement.

It comes after a report in which the CIA concluded with high confidence that bin Salman ordered Khashoggi's killing.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After initially saying he left the consulate alive, the Saudi administration admitted weeks later he was killed there.

The president also said contracts signed with Saudi Arabia worth around $450 billion have created thousands of jobs, and "have worked closely" with the U.S. on stabilizing oil prices.

"The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region," Trump said.

"I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so," Trump added. "I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America."