Trump wants Saudi Arabia as an ally despite ‘vicious’ Khashoggi murder

“He did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved … But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.”

Trump faces intense pressure from senior Democratic and Republican lawmakers to take tougher action against Saudi Arabia. Some have said the US should suspend arms sales to the kingdom and drop his support for MbS, but Trump has so far resisted that pressure.

The US government on Thursday imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their alleged role in the killing, but the sanctions did not target the Saudi government.

Saudi Arabia is a major oil supplier and a close ally of the US in countering Iranian power in the Middle East.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Trump, said on Sunday he had no doubt about MbS’ involvement in ordering the murder of Khashoggi.

“They are an important ally but when it comes to the crown prince, he’s irrational, he’s unhinged and I think he’s done a lot of damage to the relationship (between) the US and Saudi Arabia. And I have no intention of working with him ever again,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump said his administration has a taped recording related to the Khashoggi murder, provided by the Turkish government, but that he has not listened to it and does not want to.

“I know everything that went on in the tape without having to hear it,” he said. “It was very violent, very vicious and terrible.”

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