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White House Knew About Plot To Murder Washington Post Reporter, Foreign Policy Analyst Says

CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon revealed on Thursday that the US may have known in advance of Saudi involvement in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but that any investigation would be complicated by the Trump family’s close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“That is a multi-layered relationship, from trying to broker arms deals to drinks with the crown prince and partying on his yacht and wherever else,” Avlon said.

“But if the Trump administration is effectively forced by Congress to confront Saudi Arabia about this act, it will have ripple effects,” he continued, because the US “relies on Saudi to be a check on Iran.” Nonetheless, he said the Magnitsky Act should be invoked, as demanded by a bipartisan group of senators.

“The Magnitsky Act would require the administration to investigate and possibly put on sanctions. You heard the president say ‘we don’t want to mess with our arms deals, that would be bad for American business’,” Avlon added. “The question is does he see bigger principals at stake, because this is not an administration that has gone to the mat for human rights.”

“That is the danger of these close-knit relationships,” he said, bringing up a darker scenario. “Our own Elise Labott reporting out today following up that it’s possible that the U.S. intercepted cables showing that the Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back.”

“If that was the case and the duty to warn was not communicated, that is an additional complication and a degree of culpability.”

As reports continue to trickle in that Khashoggi may have been lured to the Middle East, only to be slaughtered on orders from Mohammed bin Salman, analyst Michael Hirsh put his finger on the many reasons Trump will look the other way.

“For Mohammed bin Salman, Trump is an equally convenient ally,” he adds. “The U.S. president doesn’t get too worked up about democracy and human rights—or the fate of an individual Saudi journalist who disappeared in Turkey.”

Hirsh Pointed out that the reported murder of the journalist “Is part of an increasingly brazen—indeed unprecedented—Saudi campaign to silence dissenters who might question Mohammed bin Salman’s legitimacy since he was selected over ousted Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.”

He added: “And in the case of Khashoggi, the U.S. president has opened the door to physical attacks on journalists by repeatedly calling the media ‘the enemy of the people.’”

Bruce Reidel, a retired CIA agent and Middle East expert who has advised four U.S. Presidents, said Trump will likely sit on his hands and hope it all blows over.

“I’m sure the demise of a Washington Post journalist is not a priority for a ‘fake news’ president,” Riedelbluntly stated. “I don’t think the Trump administration is going to do anything about Khashoggi.”

Watch John Avlon’s take in the video below, via CNN.

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