Before departing for Mar-a-Lago for Thanksgiving Tuesday, President Donald Trump issued a statement affirming the administration's commitment to stand with Saudi Arabia, including Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, despite CIA intelligence that he ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
"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!" the president said. Nevertheless, he issued the statement before receiving a full briefing from intelligence agencies.
The president also floated the Saudi claim that Khashoggi had links to extremist groups. "Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime."
On Fox News Tuesday host Shepard Smith excoriated the President for using Saudi regime smears against Khashoggi.
"President Trump stands with Saudi Arabia, after the American intelligence community concluded that the Saudi crown prince ordered the murder of the "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi," Smith said. "Today the president insulted the murder victim and sided with the Saudis, who said our CIA is wrong," he continued.
"In his lengthy missive, riddled with exclamation points, Mr. Trump wrote, 'We may never know the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the president said that maybe the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman knew about the murder, or maybe he didn't, yet the CIA has concluded not only that he knew, but that he ordered the brutal killing," Smith said.
"Lawmakers are putting pressure on the White House to punish the Saudis, both Republicans and Democrats. And U.S. allies are doing the same. So the president may not have the last say. We're waiting for the full report from the CIA. But today, the president got ahead of his intelligence agencies, in essence, it doesn't matter what intel says, we are standing with the Saudi kingdom."