Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is slamming the Biden administration over it’s “reckless” and “political” release of an intelligence report tying Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to the 2018 murder of Virginia-based Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday afternoon, the nation’s former top diplomat made the remarks after being asked about the Khashoggi report being declassified for the public to see.
“Our administration took the murder of Jamal Khashoggi very seriously. We held accountable lots of folks in Saudi Arabia who did this,” Pompeo began before knocking the Biden administration’s handling of the report.
“The release of this report was reckless. It was political. It was aimed at harming a relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia through the use of intelligence in a way that, as a former CIA director, I would have never stood for,” he continued, “So I regret that they chose to do this. It was a political stunt.”
Pompeo went on to note that “we know a lot about what happened there. Our administration held those accountable that we knew of.
“I regret that because this administration wants to develop a relationship with Iran and destroy one with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, they chose to use intelligence to do that.”
Asked about claims from the left that the Trump administration offered MBS a pass for the murder, Pompeo said he rejected those criticisms.
“We didn’t cover it up at all. We worked hard, indeed, I worked hard in every role I had to make sure we understood precisely what happened there. And indeed we held some dozen-plus people accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
“It was outrageous, it shouldn’t have happened. It was the wrong thing to do, and we held accountable those that were responsible for it that we could identify,” he told the network.
The former Secretary of State added that he did not know “precisely their motivation, but we have seen already the idea that somehow this administration wants to take this important security partner for the United States of America and make it a foe. And they want to go sit down and cut deals with the Iranians, who have by the way murdered far more people all across the world than the kingdom of Saudi Arabia has during our four years and the eight years before that as well.”
Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the crown prince’s consolidation of power, was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on Oct. 2, 2018.
He was strangled before being dismembered by a hit team of 15 Saudi officials, the US intelligence report released under Biden confirmed.
His remains were never returned.
The intelligence report put the blame for Khashoggi’s death squarely on bin Salman, the de facto ruler of the Kingdom.
“We assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” the report said.
It cited bin Salman’s control of “decision making” in the oil-rich country and the involvement of a top adviser and members of his security detail as evidence.
Former President Trump argued that the US-Saudi strategic alliance was too important to risk by punishing Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi’s death, especially given some of their shared priorities in the region regarding Iran.
The 45th president also argued at the time that if the US opted to not sell the Saudis weapons, the Kingdom would merely turn to Russia or China, enriching those countries and offering their loyalty elsewhere.
Saudi Arabia has continued to insist that bin Salman had no role in the killing.
Biden has shifted the US-Saudi relationship, including by ending US support for the long-stalled Saudi military campaign to restore Yemen’s President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was ousted in 2015 by an Iran-allied militia that still controls most of the country’s populated areas.