Schiff predicts Trump will accept Saudi denials of involvement in Khashoggi's death

Schiff predicts Trump will accept Saudi denials of involvement in Khashoggi's death
© Greg Nash

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday shows preview: New members preview agendas after Democratic House takeover Heads up, GOP: Elections have consequences Top Dems: DOJ position on Whitaker appointment 'fatally flawed' MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, on Sunday predicted that President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Obama says not always easy to live up to "we go high" Georgia certifies elections results in bitterly fought governor's race Trump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny MORE will accept Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's denials of involvement in the murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Schiff on ABC's "This Week" said he can "see where this is headed" but added he does not find the prince's denials credible.

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"I think we can see where this is headed," Schiff told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "Ultimately, the president is going to accept the crown prince’s denials but it's hard for me to imagine that these orders would have been carried out without the knowledge of [the crown prince]." 

Saudi Arabia over the weekend released an official statement admitting Khashoggi was murdered, blaming it on a brawl that went too far between the Washington Post journalist and Saudi agents operating without their government's authorization in Istanbul's Saudi consulate. 

Lawmakers and analysts have largely written off the explanation as dishonest, saying it contradicts previous statements by Saudi leadership and likely could not have happened without some authorization from the crown prince. 

Many of the suspects in Khashoggi's murder were a part of the crown prince's security team or have close ties to Saudi leadership. 

“We're never going to know exactly what took place in terms of the crown prince's marching orders for this group unless we get a confession from the crown prince, which is not going to happen," Schiff said.

"It's for that reason, I think, that the president is going to accept the crown prince's denials much as he has accepted [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's denials and [North Korean leader] Kim's denials, so I think that's the reality,” he added.

Trump over the weekend offered his strongest condemnation of Saudi Arabia yet, telling the Post, "Obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies." But he has continued to emphasize the strong financial and diplomatic ties between the Saudi kingdom and the U.S. as well.

Khashoggi was a Post opinion contributor and Saudi exile living in Virginia. His death has created an escalating international crisis as European governments and U.S. intelligence officials have clamored for a credible investigation into his death.

CIA agents have reportedly also listened to an audio tape that Turkish officials say proves Khashoggi was tortured and dismembered by Saudi agents, but the tape has not been released publicly.

"I think this ought to be a relationship-altering event for the U.S. and Saudi Arabia," Schiff said on ABC.