US President Donald Trump has reportedly boasted of saving the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia from being held accountable for the murder of exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi two years ago, saying: "I saved his ass."
The claim was made in a new book by the investigative reporter Bob Woodward, in which he cites 18 interviews he conducted with Trump in an effort to expose the blunders of the president's first term in office.
In the book named Rage, Woodward reports that Trump defended Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman from being targeted by US Congress following the brutal assassinated of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October 2018.
He insisted that "I saved his ass" after Bin Salman was found to be involved in the assassination by directing a Saudi hit team of agents, claiming that "I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop."
In the excerpt of the book published by Business Insider yesterday, Trump is noted in one of the interviews acknowledging that the Crown Prince maintains his denial of any involvement in the murder, saying: "He will always say that he didn't do it…He says that to everybody, and frankly I'm happy that he says that. But he will say that to you, he will say that to Congress, and he will say that to everybody. He's never said he did it."
Saudi Arabia has constantly denied official involvement in the killing, claiming that the agents from the hit squad acted independently and went rogue. In its final court ruling against some of those agents earlier this week, the kingdom sentenced eight of them to prison terms ranging between seven and 20 years, in what the UN and human rights organisations have labelled a sham trial that let the senior perpetrators get away.