Mattis: ‘No smoking gun’ tying Saudi crown prince to Khashoggi killing

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday said the United States has “no smoking gun” that connects Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“We have no smoking gun that the crown prince was involved. Not the intelligence community or anyone else. There is no smoking gun,” Mattis told reporters outside the Pentagon ahead of meeting with the Lithuanian minister of defense.

{mosads}Mattis, who had just come from a joint appearance with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a closed-door Senate session, had been asked about his seemingly shifting position on the crown prince’s role in the slaying.

Mattis has previously said there still needs to be work done in determining the accountability for the death of Khashoggi.

“We have not changed [our position] that accountability for the murder is our expectation, of everyone involved in the murder,” Mattis said. 

Khashoggi, who was critical of the Saudi government in his columns in The Washington Post, was killed in October when he went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The CIA has reportedly concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi’s death.

President Trump has pushed back on reports of the CIA’s assessment, and Pompeo said Wednesday there is no “direct reporting” from U.S. intelligence connecting the crown prince to the kill order.

But senators — skeptical the operation to kill Khashoggi would have been carried out without the approval of the crown prince, the kingdom’s day-to-day leader — later in the day advanced a resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

Mattis and Pompeo in the closed-door briefing had sought to dissuade the Senate from advancing the measure.

Mattis also told reporters that he has “personally read all the intelligence,” on the slaying, but that he had not listened to the audio recording of the killing as he does not know the language or if the administration possesses a copy of the tape.

“I cannot understand that language,” Mattis said. “I read the translations of what is alleged to be the tapes.

“We do not have the tapes. We do not have the tapes. Least I am not aware that we do. But I have read the translation twice, the day they were given to me.”

Tags Donald Trump James Mattis Mike Pompeo

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