White House adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner refused to say outright on Sunday whether he would hold Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the gruesome death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
In an interview with “Axios on HBO,” Kushner was noncommittal on whether the crown prince must account for the body of Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi royal family who was murdered after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018.
Kushner told Axios that he’s waiting for the results of a U.S. investigation before blaming the crown prince. The CIA and Turkish investigators both said Crown Prince Mohammed personally ordered the murder, yet Trump announced in November that the U.S. would not end its alliance with the kingdom.
The senior adviser has said he believes, along with Trump, that Saudi Arabia is a vital ally in countering Iran, and he has formed a close relationship with the crown prince.
Trump told reporters later Sunday evening that he still does not blame the Crown Prince for Khashoggi’s death.
“When did this come up again?” Trump asked. “What are you back ... are you back four months ago? No.”
In February, The New York Times published a report alleging that the crown prince told an aide in 2017 that he would “use a bullet” on Khashoggi. A Saudi foreign affairs official claimed soon after the report that Khashoggi’s murder was “a mistake” committed by Saudi government officials who acted “outside their scope of authority.”
Khashoggi’s fiancée has repeatedly called for accountability and for the Saudi government to release the journalist’s body, or identify where his body parts are located so that she and his family can bury him.
When asked if he would join in calling for the release, Kushner told Axios: “Look, it’s a horrific thing that happened. … Once we have all the facts, then we’ll make a policy determination, but that would be up to the secretary of state to push on our policy.”
Kushner’s comments on Sunday come exactly eight months after Khashoggi’s death, a period in which the White House has continued to refuse to hold the crown prince accountable.