There are certain things we know for sure about the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
For instance, we know for sure that he’s dead. We know for sure that he was dismembered. We know for sure that the deed was carried out by a team of 15 Saudi operatives, some of whom have close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
There are things that we, the people, don’t know for sure about Khashoggi’s death, but that intelligence agencies do know with certainty. For instance, they know what it sounded like when Khashoggi was murdered and cut up. They also know what it sounds like when Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb hops on the phone and calls Riyadh to tell his superiors that “the deed is done, tell your boss.”
One thing nobody knows for sure is who gave the order.
After all, if you’re a vigilante in the Saudi government, it is easy to get 14 of your friends together, charter two Gulfstream IV jets, fly them to Turkey, barge into the Istanbul consulate, murder a famous dissident, chop him up and stuff him suitcases, ditch the body (parts) and then fly those same to luxury jets back to Riyadh without Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knowing anything about it.
Because Prince Mohammed is a hands-off kind of guy. He generally doesn’t know what goes on in the Kingdom, which is why he would never do anything like (just conjuring a hypothetical here), go out and arrest dozens of relatives, competing royals and businessmen, lock them all in the Ritz-Carlton and then extort $110 billion from them on the way to consolidating every last vestige of influence and power in himself.
Given that, it makes complete sense for Donald Trump to doubt the CIA’s assessment that Prince Mohammed was most assuredly the man who ordered Khashoggi killed.
On Saturday morning, before departing for California to survey damage from a series of devastating wild fires, Trump suggested that he wasn’t prepared to accept the CIA’s conclusions. He followed up on that in an interview with Chris Wallace.
When asked whether he had listened to the tape of Khashoggi’s murder and whether he would hold bin Salman accountable, here is what Trump said:
Got that? Here it is again:
Will anybody really know? All right, will anybody really know?
Oh, and if you were wondering whether it is beneath this President to quite literally insult the Navy SEAL who oversaw the operation to kill Osama bin Laden, the answer is as follows: