A former CIA case officer is claiming that the Trump administration is helping cover up the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in last month’s killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Speaking to CNN on Tuesday, Bob Baer, who worked at a CIA case officer primarily in the Middle East, said the U.S. has purposely muted its response to Khashoggi's murder.
"We've always turned a blind eye to what's going on in Saudi Arabia. The way Saudi Arabia is run today, Mohammed bin Salman is an autocrat. Security services, the rest of the country, he's in control," he said.
Baer suggested it is unlikely that anyone besides bin Salman would have the authority to order such an operation.
"The Saudis don’t have rogue operations ever. It's never occurred. The chances that Mohammed bin Salman ordered this, we are hitting 100 percent," Baer said.
"At this point, the White House doesn't see a way out,” he said, claiming that there is no clear way to sideline what he called the “psychopath sitting in Riyadh controlling the country."
"No Saudi prince has ever done this ever in its history. I think what worries the White House is this country could pop, and what would we do then?" he asked.
US aide: No bin Salman link
Separately, the U.S. national security advisor said audiotapes of the Khashoggi killing don’t link back to bin Salman.
“I have not listened to the tape myself, but in the assessment of those who have listened to it, it doesn’t, in any way, link the crown prince to the killing. That isn’t the conclusion that the people who have heard it have come to,” John Bolton told reporters late Tuesday at a summit of southeast Asian nations in Singapore.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said audio recordings related to the Oct. 2 killing at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul have been shared with Saudi Arabia and other countries, including the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany.
An article in Tuesday’s New York Times also claimed that a member of the Saudi “kill team” instructed a superior over the phone to “tell your boss” -- believed to refer to bin Salman -- that the operatives had carried out their mission, according to three people familiar with a Turkish recording of Khashoggi’s killing.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
After weeks of denying involvement, the kingdom admitted Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate, and later arrested 18 people, including security officers, in connection with the case.