.. from the top down. Trump’s favorite publisher, American Media Inc., issued an obsequious glossy magazine pushing MBS’ allegedly transformative, enlightened vision onto American supermarket shelves. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, among other journalists, portrayed MBS as an Arab reformer Americans had longed for.
That rapturous reception, along with MBS’ consequence-free decimation of Yemen – one of the most extreme humanitarian crises on earth – and the crown-prince-to-prince relationship with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner that MBS cultivated may help explain why Riyadh believed it could get away with murdering Khashoggi.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry made sure to tweet out a photo of MBS and Pompeo, all smiles.
.. Bin Salman “pledged that the work of the Saudi public prosecutor will produce a full and complete conclusion with full transparency for the world to see,” Pompeo said in a statement late Tuesday, adding: “My assessment from these meetings is that there is serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia’s senior leaders or senior officials.”
Earlier Tuesday, Trump tweeted that MBS, with Pompeo present, “totally denied any knowledge” of the grim events in the Saudi consulate on October 2. And that followed on Trump’s stated reluctance to cut off substantial and long-standing Saudi arms deals with the U.S., though The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that the administration is considering some measure of punishment over the Khashoggi disappearance, potentially including sanctions.
Riedel said much depended on the willingness of the Trump administration to accept whatever explanation the Saudis end up offering for the killing of a dissident.
“The key to this cover-up is it puts a delta between MBS and the crime,” he said. “The argument MBS didn’t know doesn’t pass the laugh test.”