It comes as no surprise that an explosive CIA report on the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is expected to identify Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the main culprit who ordered the hit.
It's expected to be released to the public later in the day Thursday, Reuters first reported based on multiple admin officials, which is likely to mark a low-point in US-Saudi relations after Biden has promised to get tough on Riyadh.
"The officials said the report, for which the CIA was the main contributor, assessed that the crown prince approved and likely ordered the murder of Khashoggi, whose Washington Post column had criticized the crown prince’s policies," Reuters reports.
NBC underscores that "its public release will mark a significant new chapter in the U.S.-Saudi relationship and a clear break by President Joe Biden with former President Donald Trump's policy of equivocating about the Saudi state's role in a brutal murder that was widely condemned by members of Congress, journalists and a U.N. investigator."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Wednesday that the previously classified investigation's findings is set to be released imminently. "The president confirmed to reporters late Wednesday that he had read the report," NBC notes further.
Officially the report was compiled by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) based mostly on the earlier CIA findings from its 2018 inquiry.
President Biden is expected to hold his first official phone call with the Saudis, after which the report will be made public. Crucially, the phone call will be held with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and not the kingdom's de facto ruler MbS.
Two private jets used by the Saudi hit squad that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi were owned by a company that had been seized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmanhttps://t.co/OUVQT83NaW— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) February 24, 2021
The White House is soon expected to also release the readout of that call with the king.
Biden will reportedly convey to the king the findings of the intel report - something that will no doubt prove deeply awkward and embarrassing for the kingdom and which will possibly once again keep MbS away from public venues and events for a while (similar to the way he was treated essentially as persona non grata by world leaders in the year after Khashoggi's murder).