National security adviser John Bolton emphasized the Trump administration’s urge to resolve the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, adding that the incident and allegations of a state-sponsored assassination are damaging parties on all sides, Politico informed.
“We need to find out what the facts are, and we need to get this resolved quickly, because if it is another operation, people need to understand that,” Bolton said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show Thursday. “I think the Saudis themselves are being damaged, because we don’t have the facts out.”
President Donald Trump said Thursday he would be reluctant to impose any sanctions on Saudi Arabia if the allegations of murder are confirmed, adding, “This took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a United States citizen.”
Still, Trump said Thursday that “this kind of thing” shouldn’t happen to anyone, including a Washington Post journalist. The comment drew contrasts to previous remarks by the President calling the press the “enemy of the people.”
Bolton rejected the notion that the President is anything less than dedicated to finding Khashoggi. Bolton said Trump ordered Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to speak with Khashoggi’s fiancée, who was with the journalist the day he disappeared, and that the administration is taking numerous other steps that “I really can’t get into at the moment” to locate Khashoggi.
“I think this is ridiculous,” Bolton said. “I think that it’s just hypocritical to say that somehow the president’s not concerned about these things when manifestly his words and his actions are to the contrary.”
Bolton also said he had met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a frequent target of Khashoggi’s critical writing, and that the U.S. government isn’t hiding any information.
“If we had information, we’d know better exactly how to handle this,” Bolton said.
The Saudi government has also categorically denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, maintaining that he left the consulate freely. In a message to Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Khalid bin Salman — who is also the crown prince’s brother — said Khashoggi had visited Saudi diplomatic missions numerous times in the past and that the Saudi government continued to care for him as one of their own, even after he wrote dissenting comments.
“Though the situation is extraordinary, these measures are not,” the ambassador wrote. “Jamal is a Saudi citizen whose safety and security is a top priority for the Kingdom, just as is the case with any other citizen.”