U.S. President Donald Trump has become an unwavering ally of the main perpetrators of the brutal murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the eight months since it occurred, the newspaper said Monday.
“Mr. Trump has become steadfast champion of the royal court that sent a team of killers to murder Khashoggi,” the Washington Post’s editorial board said in an op-ed.
“The premeditated murder of a contributing columnist who believed in democracy does not concern him, but the care and feeding of the dictatorial kingdom that sent the killers gets his lavish attention and slavish devotion. What does the United States get in return? Complicity in a criminal war in Yemen, and an indelible stain on its moral record,” the board added.
The scathing write-up follows last week’s publication of UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard’s report on Khashoggi’s murder in which she determined it was an “extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible”.
Following the report’s release, Trump said Khashoggi’s murder did not come up during a Friday morning phone call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, whom the CIA determined with relatively high confidence had ordered it.
Trump and his top officials have sought to shield Bin Salman from any responsibility for the journalist’s murder, despite initially saying there would be “very severe” consequences if Saudi Arabia were responsible.
In the report, Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said she found “credible evidence” to further probe Saudi officials’ individual liability in the Khashoggi killing, including Bin Salman.
Among its other recommendations, the UN’s report calls for the FBI and UN secretary general to launch criminal investigations into the murder of Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident.
Asked during an interview with NBC News on Sunday if the FBI should probe Khashoggi’s death, Trump was circumspect.
“I think it’s been heavily investigated,” he said.
Khashoggi was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the country’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 last year.
Riyadh offered various, conflicting narratives to explain his disappearance before acknowledging he was murdered in the diplomatic building while seeking to shift blame for his death on a botched rendition operation being carried out by rogue agents.
Khashoggi’s body has not been recovered, and the Kingdom has kept mum on its whereabouts.