The U.S.-Saudi relationship had its finest hour under Bush. It’s no surprise that the Saudis want to remember the good old days. Given the acute crisis in U.S.-Saudi relations, Riyadh urgently needs a capable ambassador in Washington, but not one so tainted with the Khashoggi murder and coverup.
Somebody wanted this information [CIA evidence that MBS communicated with the top aide overseeing the Khashoggi hit team 11 times before and after the assassination] to come out, obviously. I think there is, inside the American national security bureaucracy, a fair number of people who have been warning for some time that Mohammed bin Salman is a dangerous, reckless, impulsive person and they weren’t getting any attention. And now they have proof positive of how dangerous and reckless he is. In Washington, the way you say, ‘I told you so,’ is to leak something... You don’t really need to know the content of these [CIA] reports, it is self-evident. Fifteen people don’t get on an airplane and fly to Istanbul for a day trip and fly back having murdered someone and then made phone calls from the scene of the crime back to the crown prince’s office. You are not talking about the weather.
This [evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman communicated repeatedly with a key aide around the time that Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated] is the smoking gun, or at least the smoking phone call. There is only one thing they could possibly be talking about. This shows that the crown prince was witting of premeditated murder... Will the White House give up the cover-up of the cover-up? I don’t see any sign they are willing to change their tune. But this will certainly increase the pressure to get Gina Haspel to testify on the Hill.
[Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] has alienated many members of the royal family during his Ritz Carleton shakedown. The assassination of Khashoggi has also added to the sense of instability. Anytime Bin Salman is out of the country, he is more vulnerable and if he is treated as a pariah abroad, it increases his vulnerability.
He’ll [Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] have his picture with world leaders and say, ‘See, it’s all coming back to normal.’ He’s wrong. Saudi Arabia and MBS now are toxic, and will be as long as he’s in power... It’s not clear who botched up the coverup more, MBS or Trump... Among their many mistakes [was thinking that] Turkey really wouldn’t care about the murder. [Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] has played this brilliantly, humiliating the Saudis [and is] having the time of his life... It wasn’t the Miami Herald or a blog, which they might have ignored... The Post will never let this go.
The Trump administration, or to be more specific, the Trump White House, desperately wants the Jamal Khashoggi thing to go away. They built their whole Middle East strategy around Mohammed bin Salman and they have now found out that it is bankrupt. He is reckless, he is dangerous, he is impulsive, he is a threat to the stability of the kingdom, a threat to the stability of the region, but it is too late. The Trump family invested in him . . . And they don’t want their investment to be dissolved. [Trump has frequently refused to believe his own intelligence experts when their conclusions don’t serve his interests.] This is just another one. It all goes back to he cannot afford to give up Mohammed bin Salman at this stage in the game. And he thinks he can tough it out and Mohammed bin Salman thinks he can tough it out.