Brennan: Saudi denials of involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance 'ring hollow'

Former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanEx-CIA chief calls Trump intel shakeup a 'virtual decapitation' of the intelligence community DOJ attorney looking into whether CIA withheld info during start of Russia probe: NYT Federal prosecutor looking into Brennan's role in Russian interference findings: report MORE said Sunday that Saudi Arabia's denials of involvement in the suspected death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi "ring hollow."

"If Khashoggi had disappeared in Turkey when he was at a hotel or a private residence, I think there is plausible deniability on the part of the Saudi government. But he disappeared when there is video evidence of him being at the consulate," Brennan said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"So their denials ring hollow, very much ring hollow," he continued. "To go after a permanent resident of the United States who writes for The Washington Post, and doing it on foreign soil, at a diplomatic mission, to me it would be inconceivable that such an operation would be run by the Saudis without the knowledge of the day-to-day decisionmaker of Saudi Arabia, that’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. I think it is just beyond reality."


Brennan, who worked as a station chief in Saudi Arabia, said there should be a full investigation of Khashoggi's disappearance, and that any repercussions for Saudi officials may ultimately be up to King Salman.

However, Brennan noted that the king is aging and suggested he may lack the political authority and mental capacity to act.

Khashoggi disappeared nearly two weeks ago after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was not seen leaving.

Turkish officials have said he was murdered there on orders from Saudi officials, and the Post reported that there is audio and video that proves Khashoggi was tortured and killed.

Saudi officials have denied the claims.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump endorses former White House physician Ronny Jackson for Congress Newly released emails reveal officials' panic over loss of credibility after Trump's Dorian claims Lindsey Graham thanks Trump, bemoans 'never-ending bull----' at South Carolina rally  MORE has expressed concern about Khashoggi’s disappearance, and vowed there would be “severe punishment” if Saudi Arabia was found to be behind the journalist’s death. He did not specify what the punishment might be, but voiced reluctance to alter the weapons deals between the U.S. and the Saudis.

Senators last week invoked sanctions law that requires the president to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance.