Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed on Fox News early Wednesday that the Saudis responsible for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi have already “paid the price.”
But that appeared to not be enough for Fox & Friends. Co-host Ainsley Earhardt, who is not typically known for her empathy, called the murder “brutal” and referred to the audio tapes that recorded his torturous death “awful.”
“Somebody has to pay the price,” she said.
“The Saudis have already paid the price,” said Pompeo.
The ex CIA director has publicly rejected his former intelligence agency’s reported assessment that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of the Saudi dissident at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi’s body was reportedly dismembered by a team dispatched from Riyadh.
Today, Pompeo claimed that justice has already been served after the Trump administration placed visa restrictions on 21 people linked to the murder and imposed economic sanctions on 17 of them.
“There are the folks who’ve actually committed the murder, we’ve held accountable. We will continue to do that. No one underestimates how horrible this murder was. But remember, Iran is running rampant throughout the Middle East. The death of any one individual is awful. The death of hundreds of thousands of people in Europe or the middle east or the United States matters an awful lot. The president is committed to protecting America.”
Co-host Brian Kilmeade pushed back hard, citing the audio tapes of the murder and dismemberment and Republican senators “who’ve called it a smoking saw, not a smoking gun.”
“We know the prince knows, right? You know,” said Kilmeade. “You looked him in the eye. You know that he knows.”
Pompeo dodged that question multiple times.
When Earhardt brought up that the CIA has concluded that the crown prince ordered the murder himself, Pompeo responded: “Some of the reporting you've seen on this is inaccurate.” (In follow-up questions, he would not confirm that he was referring to the CIA report.)
At times, the White House has publicly rebuked the Saudis; on other occasions Trump suggested “rogue killers” could have murdered Khashoggi and declared the crown prince knew nothing of the crime. On Monday, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, a friend of the prince who the New York Times reported advised the royal on how to get through the scandal, said the U.S. had moved on to peace-making efforts in the Middle East.