President Donald Trump continued to defend the Saudi royal family on Tuesday, comparing the presumption of their responsibility for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to the treatment of Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh during his confirmation process.
“Here we go again with you know you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned,” Trump said in an interview with the Associated Press. “So we have to find out what happened.”
The New York Times and CNN, among other outlets, have reported that Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and killed, then cut into pieces and disposed of by agents of the kingdom. Surveillance cameras show Khashoggi entering the consulate on Oct. 2 but never leaving.
Amid calls for boycotts of the Saudi Arabia and sanctions by other governments, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was dispatched to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi leaders. Trump has said Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have denied knowledge of Khashoggi’s fate. Trump has mused that perhaps “rogue killers” were responsible for the journalist’s disappearance.
Among critics of the kingdom in the affair are some of Trump’s biggest boosters, like Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
“You know, we deal with bad people all the time, but this is in our face. I feel personally offended. They have nothing but contempt for us,” Graham said Tuesday morning.