President Donald Trump has criticized the Saudi cover story for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi as "one of the worst" cover-ups in history.
Trump made his comments even as he re-emphasized the billions of dollars and US jobs at stake with Saudi Arabia, and for the first time he would let Congress decide how to respond to the alleged assassination of the Washington Post dissident and columnist.
"They had a very bad original concept that was carried out badly and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of the cover-ups," Trump said.
& # 39; It's very simple. Bad treatment, you should never have thought. "Someone really made a mistake," Trump said.
But he also said that Saudi Arabia had been a "great ally" and a great American investor.
"They're making hundreds of billions of dollars in investments and, you know, a lot of jobs," he said.
He then pointed to regional rival Iran, saying they have been "vicious, ugly".
"And that's no excuse for what happened with Saudi Arabia, there's no excuse, but take a look, it's a tough part of the world, it's an unpleasant place, it's an unpleasant part of the world," Trump said.
Then he added: "But, if what happened happened, and if the facts are verified, then it is very bad".
Former vice president Mike Pence said on Tuesday that the death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi "will not go without an American response" and that the CIA director was in Turkey to review the evidence in the case.
Pence refused to discuss what punitive action the US could take. UU In response to the death of the columnist and critic of the Washington Post who died on October 2 at the Consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia said he was killed in a fight at the consulate.
The statement of the Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, last Tuesday, said Pence, that "this brutal murder was pre-mediated, with days prior to the planning, it faces previous assertions made by the Saudi regime".
"This brutal murder of a journalist, an innocent man or a dissident will not happen without an American response," Pence said, adding that there will probably be an international response as well.
When asked if the United States would sanction members of the Saudi royal family if they were found complicit, Pence said that is a decision for President Donald Trump. He says the president will make a decision that reflects the national security values and interests of the nation and will also "make sure the world knows the truth."
Pence, who spoke in Washington at an event organized by The Washington Post, said any response from the United States that the president decides to take will take into account the importance of US relations with Saudi Arabia, an alliance that he said has been around since after the World Cup The second war
Speaking: Mike Pence made the most aggressive noises of the Trump government for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and said he would not "go without the response of the United States."
Information meeting: CIA chief Gina Haspel will inform Pence and Trump as soon as he returns from Turkey, where he has investigated the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
He refused to say whether he had seen any intelligence information linking the Saudi Crown Prince to the murder.
"I know that when the CIA director returns, she will inform the president, me and our entire team about what the Turks have gathered," Pence said of the trip of CIA director Gina Haspel to Turkey.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who retired from attending an investment conference in Riyadh, met with Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman separately before the forum, according to Saudi state television.
Trump spoke on Sunday with the crown prince, who is the son of Saudi King Salman.
"He says he's not involved nor is he the king," Trump told USA Today in an interview aboard Air Force One Monday on the way to a political rally in Texas. The newspaper said Trump refused to say whether he believed in the Crown Prince's denials. If his participation was proven, Trump said: "I would feel very upset about it. We will have to see.
Members of Congress and former government officials have accused Riyadh of trying to cover up the truth behind Khashoggi's death or of hiding any evidence that the kingdom, particularly the crown prince, has authorized it.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Who has been trying to persuade Trump to end arms sales to Saudi Arabia, said on Monday it was "ridiculous" to believe that the crown prince was not involved in Khashoggi's death. .
Trump said any response from the US. UU It should not involve the elimination of billions of dollars in arms sales, which would hurt the US defense industries. UU And it would eliminate jobs in the US UU "I do not want to lose all the investment that is being made in our country," he said.
Death look: in Riyadh, crown prince of the Saudi crown Mohammed bin Salman met with Salah bin Jamal Khashoggi, the son of the murdered journalist, despite the fact that the de facto Saudi leader was suspected of ordering the brutal death
Another highlight of the spotlight: Jared Kushner's cozy relationship with Mohammed bin Salman has been affected by the death of Jamal Khashoggi.
Whatever the response from the US UU., The links of the United States. UU With their Gulf ally they have hit difficult waters. The Khashoggi affair has also threatened to upset the relationship of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with the crown prince.
The two men, both in their 30s, both trusted assistants of older family leaders, established a bond last spring and were frequently consulted on private calls in the months that followed. The crown prince, known in diplomatic circles as 'MBS', has received some praise in the West for his moves to modernize the kingdom and criticism for the arrests of rivals and critics of his government.
Trump now downplay the relationship, saying that the crown prince and Kushner are "just two young boys." But their return channel relationship baffled many in the Trump administration and in the establishment of Washington's foreign policy that they feared the White House would bet too much on the crown prince.
Kushner rejected criticism Monday that the Trump government was covering Saudi Arabia. He said that administration officials have their eyes wide open.
"We receive data from multiple locations and, once incorporated, the secretary of state will work with our national security team to help us determine what we want to believe, what we believe is credible and what we believe is not credible." , Kushner told CNN.
Even Trump, however, acknowledges that Kushner's work to try to build peace between Israel and the Palestinians has been delayed by the death of Khashoggi. & # 39; There are many setbacks. This is a setback for that, "Trump told The Washington Post in a telephone interview over the weekend.
Bruce Riedel, a former Middle East specialist for the CIA and the National Security Council, said the Trump administration "desperately wants the Istanbul affair to go and the MBS-Jared issue to be darkened."
An administration official who deals regularly with Kushner rejected claims that Kushner and the crown prince are joined by the hip. The official was not authorized to discuss the relationship and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
The official said that Kushner, like other members of the administration, including Trump, believes that Saudi Arabia should suffer some kind of consequence, but said that Kushner also believes that the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia "should not be exploited". due to the Khashoggi affair.