CNN analyst says Trump administration may have known of Saudi murder plot — but did nothing

CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon revealed on Thursday that the US may have known in advance of Saudi involvement in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but that any investigation would be complicated by the Trump family's close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


"That is a multi-layered relationship, from trying to broker arms deals to drinks with the crown prince and partying on his yacht and wherever else," Avlon said.

"But if the Trump administration is effectively forced by congress to confront Saudi Arabia about this act, it will have ripple effects," he continued, because the US "relies on Saudi to be a check on Iran." Nonetheless, he said the Magnitsky Act should be invoked, as demanded by a bipartisan group of senators.

"The Magnitsky Act would require the administration to investigate and possibly put on sanctions. You heard the president say 'we don't want to mess with our arms deals, that would be bad for American business'," Avlon added. "The question is does he see bigger principals at stake, because this is not an administration that has gone to the mat for human rights."

"That is the danger of these close-knit relationships," he said, bringing up a darker scenario. "Our own Elise Labott reporting out today following up that it's possible that the U.S. intercepted cables showing that the Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back."

"If that was the case and the duty to warn was not communicated, that is an additional complication and a degree of culpability."

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