- Yuri Gripas/Reuters
- Both Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Wednesday that the there is “no smoking gun” and “no direct reporting” linking the Saudi crown prince to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Mattis insisted that the US does not have the tape that supposedly captures the moment Khashoggi was killed, contradicting President Donald Trump.
- Mattis and Pompeo both told the Senate Wednesday that cutting American military support to Saudi Arabia as it carries out operations in Yemen would be detrimental to US interests.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Wednesday the United States has “no smoking gun” that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the killing of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.
Asked about reports that a CIA assessment earlier this month concluded the crown prince had ordered Khashoggi’s death, Mattis referred journalists back to the intelligence agency.
“We have no smoking gun the crown prince was involved, not the intelligence community or anyone else. There is no smoking gun,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon, adding that the United States still expected those responsible for the killing to be held accountable.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made similar comments before the Senate earlier in the day, stating, “There is no direct reporting connecting the Crown Prince to the order to murder Jamal Khoshoggi.” He added, “That’s all I can say in an unclassified setting.”
Mattis insisted that the US does not have the tapes capturing the moment Khashoggi was killed. “We do not have the tapes, at least I’m not aware that we do.” Last week, President Donald Trump told Fox News that “we have the tape,” but he clarified that he had not listened to it. Mattis told reporters that he has not listened to the tape, but he has read all the intel and the translations.
Pompeo and Mattis urged senators Wednesday to avoid letting concerns over Khashoggi interfere with US defense cooperation with Saudi Arabia with regard to Yemen.
“Our security interests cannot be dismissed, even as we seek accountability for what President Trump described as the ‘unacceptable and horrible crime’ of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, a crime which ‘our country does not condone’,” Mattis said in his prepared remarks.
“Pulling back our limited U.S. military support, our weapons sales to our partners, and our protection of the Saudi and Emirati populations would be misguided,” he further explained.
Reuters staff members Idrees Ali, David Alexander, and Jonathan Oatis contributed to this report