After publicly decrying the journalist's death as a "terrible mistake" and a "terrible tragedy," The Washington Post is reporting that - according to people familiar with the discussion - that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman described slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi as a dangerous Islamist days after his disappearance in a phone call with President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and national security adviser John Bolton.
WaPo reports that during the call, which occurred before the kingdom publicly acknowledged killing Khashoggi, the crown prince urged Kushner and Bolton to preserve the U.S.-Saudi alliance and said the journalist was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group long opposed by Bolton and other senior Trump officials.
However, the crown prince said during a panel discussion last week.
“The incident that happened is very painful, for all Saudis... The incident is not justifiable.”
Additionally, the Saudi ambassador to US, Khalid bin Salman, described Khashoggi last month as a “friend” who dedicated “a great portion of his life to serve his country.”
In a statement released to The Washington Post, Khashoggi’s family called the characterization of the columnist as dangerous Islamist inaccurate.
“Jamal Khashoggi was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He denied such claims repeatedly over the past several years,” the family said.
“Jamal Khashoggi was not a dangerous person in any way possible. To claim otherwise would be ridiculous.”
Finally, and unsurprisngly, a Saudi official on Wednesday denied that the crown prince made the allegations, saying “routine calls do exist from time to time” with the young leader and top U.S. officials, but “no such commentary was conveyed.”
Just as the dust is starting to settle (at least in the media's goldfish-like news cycles), Turkey's statements on acid-dissolving Khashoggi's body and this reported 'bombshell' will likely push the US-Saudi relationship back to the front pages. The timing on the leak makes one wonder whether it is designed to put pressure on Trump to act against the Saudis, and/or whether this implied more pressure on the Saudis to spread the cash and payoff a few more raised voices to get back to the normal despotic regime they are used to.