BREAKING NEWS Massive Albert Lea blaze results in 13 homes being evacuated Full Story
CLOSINGS: View Closings

Why Trump declined to hear Khashoggi tape

President Donald Trump told Fox News' Chris Wallace he does not want to hear the tape that allegedly contains audio of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing because it is "a suffering tape," and said he has been briefed on its contents.

Posted: Nov 19, 2018 3:42 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2018 4:01 PM

The slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi wrote passionately about ending the brutal war in Yemen. In one column for the Washington Post he called on Saudi Arabia to "use its clout and leverage within Western circles" to resolve the conflict.

Never could he have imagined that he himself would become the leverage in attempts to end the war.

US President Donald Trump seems reluctant to connect Mohammed bin Salman to the journalist's death, appearing to take little note of what sources say is a CIA assessment that the powerful Saudi Crown Prince ordered Khashoggi's killing.

Trump has distanced himself from the case as much as he can, refusing to listen to audio evidence shedding light on how Khashoggi was killed last month at a Saudi consulate in Turkey. Saudi officials now admit a premeditated murder happened on its diplomatic premises, though it denies the Crown Prince was involved.

Despite the CIA assessment, Trump has repeatedly explained the Saudi-US relationship is simply too important to risk.

But Trump isn't the only world leader who wants to avoid a direct clash with bin Salman and rock a strategic relationship that comes with the perks of intelligence sharing, lucrative arms deals and a stable supply of oil. And it wouldn't be the first time the world has turned a blind eye to human rights violations by the kingdom to preserve these creature comforts in a restive region.

Instead, Western nations are responding to Saudi aggression by addressing the war in Yemen, ratcheting up pressure on the Crown Prince to enter a ceasefire agreement that will put an end to the three-year conflict.

The war in Yemen, between the US-backed Saudi-led coalition and the Iran-backed Houthis, has created the world's worst man-made humanitarian disaster, according to the UN. Much of the damage has come from Saudi coalition air power, and UN experts say its bombing of civilians are potential war crimes. The Saudis, who have denied allegations of war crimes, have the greatest power to end the conflict, above any other actor in the war.

There are plenty of members of Congress in the US who don't agree with Trump's lax response to the Khashoggi killing. A bipartisan group of Senators has introduced draft legislation to impose tougher sanctions on Saudi Arabia that target arms sales to the kingdom and bans the US practice of refueling of Saudi planes in the Yemen war.

"This legislation is an important way to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for various acts in Yemen as well as the death of Jamal Khashoggi," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said last week.

On Sunday, Republican Senator Jeff Flake accused the Trump administration of dragging its feet on the Khashoggi case in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union." In the same breath, he brought up the Saudi role in Yemen as another example of how the kingdom's and US' values do not align.

"It looks more and more like the truth is that the Crown Prince was involved, that he likely ordered it," Flake said of the Khashoggi killing.

"So, to just deflect and say it's a spectacular ally, when, in fact, some of the bloom has been coming off that rose for a while, particularly given the war in Yemen. So, there are things that we're going to have to confront here soon. And I hope we do it based on the truth, not in something that we simply want to see because we have a lot invested in the relationship with the Crown Prince now."

Joost Hiltermann, the Middle East and North Africa program director at the International Crisis Group, said that Khashoggi's murder coincided with a growing willingness to address the Yemen war, particularly as hunger worsens in the country and ahead of a possible announcement at the end of the month that Yemen is officially in famine.

"There was growing unease and pressure from governments, civil society groups and others to do more to end this conflict. Everybody realized that the responsibility of a famine would shift to them too," Hiltermann said.

"But people are always looking for opportunities, there's always an opportunity in a crisis. Even when someone gets murdered in a horrific way, there's political capital to be made."

Yemen resolution picks up steam

Western nations have pounced on Riyadh's rare moment of vulnerability to push for progress on Yemen, an easier cause to sell politically at home than tussling with the powerful Crown Prince.

The UK was expected to table a long-awaited draft UN resolution on Yemen during a meeting of the Security Council in New York on Monday.

A week ago, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited Riyadh, where he met with bin Salman and presented him with the draft text that sources said provoked anger.

Two sources told CNN the Crown Prince "threw a fit" over the resolution. Two other sources described his reaction less dramatically, but didn't deny he was at the very least annoyed.

Another source told CNN that Hunt went to bin Salman and essentially said: "This is what Western powers think, and this is what you need to do. What is your plan to stop this?"

Hunt's trip followed discussions with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, suggesting the Western allies are on the same page on the resolution.

And it seems the plan has already had some success; the Saudis have now agreed to facilitate Houthi negotiators' travel to Sweden for talks.

In a small first gesture, the US earlier this month halted its practice of refueling Saudi coalition jets operating in Yemen. Around the same time, Pompeo and US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis also called on participants in the conflict to agree to a ceasefire.

But the concern is that the renewed vigor for action on Yemen -- however desperately welcomed it may be -- has come at the cost of disclosing the full truth on Khashoggi.

The response to Khashoggi's killing has been soft, or has at least avoided direct targets at the Crown Prince, in what has become a particularly dark and dangerous time for journalists in many parts of the world.

The Trump administration announced sanctions against 17 Saudi government officials on Thursday last week -- the Crown Prince obviously not among them -- on the same day Saudi prosecutors formally charged 11 people over Khashoggi's killing, five of whom will face the death penalty. Both sides had apparently hoped their responses would be the end of the Khashoggi affair.

Germany says it plans to ban 18 Saudis from entering the country, while Canada is also mulling sanctions.

Turkey has been the most aggressive player against the Saudis, drip-feeding intelligence that has forced Riyadh to address at least some aspects of Khashoggi's killing. But even Ankara has been careful about explicitly naming names, and as a country that cracks down on journalists so aggressively, it's difficult to believe it has the cleanest of motives.

When asked if he thought bin Salman had ordered Khashoggi's killing, Trump said, "Well, will anybody really know?" in an interview with "Fox News Sunday."

He might be right, and if the truth of what happened to Khashoggi is never fully disclosed, there is only hope that his death did something for the people of war-torn Yemen.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333626

Reported Deaths: 3843
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin700691145
Ramsey29459521
Dakota23564198
Anoka23541236
Washington14864125
Stearns14564125
St. Louis9549121
Scott896460
Wright847548
Olmsted714637
Sherburne618746
Clay529960
Carver509715
Kandiyohi440828
Rice432338
Blue Earth431217
Crow Wing383339
Otter Tail338925
Chisago334516
Benton322753
Nobles316032
Winona297832
Douglas283040
Mower274823
Polk271527
Morrison246731
McLeod233721
Lyon232812
Beltrami230718
Goodhue222932
Becker221521
Steele21038
Itasca206324
Isanti203917
Carlton201417
Todd190314
Nicollet172126
Mille Lacs164632
Freeborn16227
Le Sueur157012
Brown156115
Cass153511
Pine14498
Meeker144812
Waseca143411
Roseau13035
Martin124721
Hubbard119729
Wabasha11301
Redwood104620
Chippewa9808
Renville95530
Cottonwood9454
Dodge9311
Watonwan8944
Wadena8637
Sibley8404
Rock8249
Houston8004
Aitkin79930
Fillmore7690
Pipestone76518
Pennington7058
Yellow Medicine69612
Kanabec68614
Swift63610
Murray6124
Faribault6093
Pope5721
Clearwater55410
Marshall5459
Stevens5403
Jackson5321
Lake4518
Koochiching4216
Wilkin4175
Lac qui Parle4124
Lincoln3811
Unassigned38159
Norman3718
Big Stone3392
Mahnomen3225
Grant2986
Kittson2518
Red Lake2303
Traverse1531
Lake of the Woods1071
Cook800

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 237371

Reported Deaths: 2571
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk34873347
Linn14787169
Scott1184692
Black Hawk11288147
Woodbury10763137
Johnson985939
Dubuque947999
Story701924
Pottawattamie682474
Dallas661260
Sioux383829
Webster378339
Cerro Gordo373252
Marshall360950
Clinton345645
Buena Vista316614
Muscatine305172
Des Moines300623
Warren294115
Plymouth287044
Wapello265072
Jones237118
Jasper231546
Lee228719
Marion211922
Carroll204325
Bremer202713
Henry19367
Crawford183116
Benton175423
Tama157442
Jackson151117
Washington150216
Delaware147621
Dickinson145812
Boone144912
Mahaska133928
Wright13107
Clay12505
Buchanan123410
Hardin122812
Hamilton119514
Page11925
Kossuth11768
Clayton115510
Cedar114614
Harrison113432
Floyd111921
Mills11129
Calhoun10987
Fayette109812
Lyon10769
Butler10748
Winneshiek105513
Poweshiek103714
Iowa101414
Cherokee9674
Winnebago96325
Chickasaw9195
Hancock9138
Sac9068
Louisa90122
Grundy89514
Allamakee88413
Cass84725
Union8437
Mitchell8429
Appanoose81613
Humboldt8125
Shelby80511
Emmet79026
Guthrie78315
Franklin76421
Jefferson7635
Madison7265
Unassigned7090
Palo Alto6744
Keokuk6567
Pocahontas6024
Howard5859
Ida54915
Osceola5461
Greene5422
Montgomery51411
Clarke5064
Davis4839
Taylor4833
Monona4567
Adair4539
Monroe45113
Worth3881
Fremont3823
Van Buren3815
Decatur3410
Lucas3416
Audubon3112
Wayne3087
Ringgold2432
Adams1812
Rochester
Clear
25° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 14°
Mason City
Clear
26° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 17°
Albert Lea
Clear
27° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 22°
Feels Like: 27°
Austin
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 21°
Charles City
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 14°
More sunshine heading into the weekend
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

13 homes evacuated due to Albert Lea blaze

Image

Property Taxes to Decrease for Most Olmsted County Homeowners

Image

Property Tax Decrease in Olmsted County

Image

MSHSL announces return to participation plan for winter, spring sports

Image

Improvements to Highway 14 corridor

Image

A plan for dangerous Highway 14

Image

Albert Lea fire claims warehouse

Image

Massive warehouse fire in Albert Lea

Image

Aaron's Thursday Evening Forecast

Image

Hotel Indigo in Rochester adapts to pandemic

Community Events