Senior Trump advisor Jared Kushner said that the White House is still in the fact-finding phase regarding Riyadh's account of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death, adding that the president and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would decide on a course of action after the facts emerge.
"Right now as an administration, we're more in the fact-finding phase, and we're obviously getting as many facts as we can from the different places, and then we'll determine which facts are credible. After that the president and the secretary of state will make a determination as to what we deem to be credible and what actions we think we should take," Kushner said, speaking to CNN on Monday.
Riyadh remains a critical US partner and ally, with President Trump remaining focused on US interests, Kushner added.
"We have to be able to work with our allies, and Saudi Arabia has been I think a very strong ally in terms of pushing back against Iran's aggression, which is funding a lot of terror in the region, whether it's the Houthis in Yemen, or its Hezbollah or Hamas. We have a lot of terrorism in the region. The Middle East is a rough place; it's been a rough place for a very long time, and we have to be able to pursue our strategic objectives. But we also have to deal with obviously what seems to be a terrible situation," Kushner said.
He added that he would urge Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be transparent and to take the situation surrounding Khashoggi's death "seriously."
"Just to be transparent, to be fully transparent. The world is watching. This is a very, very serious accusation and a very serious situation," he said when asked what advice he would give the crown prince.
"We have our eyes wide open. I think that the president is focused on what's good for America, what are our strategic interests, where do we share interests with other countries, let's work toward those," Kushner said.
Saudi national and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Last week, Riyadh said its preliminary investigation showed that the journalist may have been killed after getting into a fistfight at the consulate. Saudi authorities have since detained 18 individuals in connection with the case, and dismissed intelligence chief Ahmad Assiri and Saud al-Qahtani, a senior aid to the crown prince.