WASHINGTON DC – Saudi Arabia considers Jamal Khashoggi was an 'enemy of the state,' and was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday.
Mr Trump made the revelation known in a statement he issued on Tuesday about the Khashoggi killing and America's relationship with the Saudis.
"Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an "enemy of the state" and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood," Mr Trump said.
The Saudi government has not publicly criticised Khashoggi so Saudis would generally be unaware of their government's claims.
In what appeared to be more of a press release on behalf of the Saudi government, Mr Trump defended the kingdom and in particular the country's Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who he has effectively cleared of any wrongdoing in the murder.
Astonishingly, the statement was issued before a CIA assessment of the Khashoggi killing was delivered to the White House.
Mr Trump dismissed the CIA findings saying they were inconclusive, and that all that happened in the Saudi consulate when Mr Khashoggi was killed may never be known.
In another major development in the case on Tuesday the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir has said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does not claim the crown prince was responsible for the Washington Post columnist's murder.
Asked what the meaning of Erdogan's comments were when he said 'the order to kill Khahoggi had come from the highest level of the Saudi leadership but probably not King Salman,' Al Jubeir said the Turkish president was not implying that it was the crown prince that was responsible.
"We have already asked the Turkish authorities at the highest level about the meaning of these comments, and they confirmed to us categorically that the crown prince is not meant by these comments," he said Tuesday.
"The leadership of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques the king and the crown prince, is a red line, and we will not permit attempts to harm or undermine them," the Saudi foreign minister said.
One person certainly listening to the foreign minister was the U.S. president.
"The world is a very dangerous place!" Mr Trump said in his statement issued on Tuesday.
"The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq's fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more," he said.
"Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" Iran is considered "the world's leading sponsor of terror."
"On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism," Mr Trump said.
"After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries - and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!"
"The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body," said Trump in his statement.
"Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an "enemy of the state" and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that -- this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event -- maybe he did and maybe he didn't!"
"That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!" the U.S. president said.
"I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction, and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels -- so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First! Mr Trump said.
One Congressman who isn't buying in to the Trump mantra is Trump supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, who told NBC on Sunday the team of 15 "don't get on two airplanes, go to Turkey and chop a guy up in a consulate who is a critic of the crown prince without the crown prince having known about it. And sanctioned it."