After seemingly remaining cautious on throwing the blame for Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance the way of the Saudi Arabian government and the royal family, U.S. President Donald Trump has now issued his harshest criticism yet of their actions.
Speaking from the Oval Office on Tuesday, Trump called the series of events that ultimately led to Khashoggi’s death inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, “the worst cover-up ever,” according to CNN.
“The cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups,” the president said. “It’s very simple.” He later also called the entire saga “a total fiasco.”
Trump has become increasingly frustrated with the Saudi government during the past few weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance, as the scrutiny on him and his reaction has increased, along with pressure to cut ties with the Saudis. Last week, in a bid to investigate Turkish officials’ claims that Khashoggi was hacked to death inside the consulate, Trump sent CIA Director Gina Haspel to Turkey.
Further action came on Tuesday when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the visas of operatives involved in Khashoggi’s killing had been revoked, adding that the “administration has identified at least some of the individuals responsible.” Those who did not have visas would become ineligible to be given one.
Trump on Khashoggi's killing: "They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly and the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups. It's very simple. Bad deal. Should have never been thought of. Somebody really messed up." (via ABC) pic.twitter.com/w9L4yDwsHe
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 23, 2018
The State and Treasury Departments are also working together to “apply human rights-related sanctions that includes the freezing of assets and a travel ban.”
The 21 individuals the State Department claims to have identified as being involved with the murder have not been named, with officials stating, “visa confidentiality, protected by U.S. law, prohibits us from discussing individual visa cases.”
Saudi Arabian officials originally denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s disappearance, claiming he had left the consulate through the back door, which was why he did not greet his fiancee out at the front. They later confessed his death had come at their hands, but claimed it was a “rogue operation” and that Khashoggi had died in a “fistfight.” The government continued to deny any knowledge of the whereabouts of his body, which are reported to have eventually been located yesterday, as per a previous Inquisitr article.
Trump has been less than welcoming of this explanation, despite his initial hesitance in pointing the finger at Saudi Arabia.
“Somebody really messed up. Because whoever thought of that idea, I think is in big trouble. And they should be in big trouble. However they talk about it, nothing they’ve done has gone well. It certainly has not been spoken of properly. The process was no good. the execution was no good. And the cover up, if you want to call it that, was certainly no good.”
The president is due for a debriefing from U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday afternoon, who will hopefully have more insight.