Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Trump says he believes Saudi Arabia should be given the benefit of the doubt over the presumed death of Jamal Khashoggi

President Donald Trump criticized mounting global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the case of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi Tuesday and said: 'Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent.'

He compared the outcry over the reported death of the Washington Post columnist to allegations of sexual assault leveled against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing - of which Trump said his nominee was cleared.

The president told the Associated Press that Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman both deny any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi when he entered their country's consulate in Turkey earlier this month.

Khashoggi, a critic of the monarchy, has not been seen since and a new report Tuesday said he had been dismembered while still alive and screamed for seven minutes as Saudi agents tortured him to death.

Trump told the AP comments on Monday that Khashoggi could have been the victim of 'rogue killers' were informed by his 'feeling' of the conversation with Salman he had that day.

'I think we have to find out what happened first,' Trump said. 'Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent.

'I don't like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I'm concerned.'

The Oval Office interview was shortly after Trump spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The president had spoken a day earlier with King Salman, 82, and he said both deny any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi.

Trump's remarks were his most robust defense yet of the Saudis, a U.S. ally he has made central to his Mideast agenda.

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