White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that President Biden, who is visiting Saudi Arabia next month, believes the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the 2018 operation. In which Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed.
Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia in mid-July as he seeks to thaw US-Saudi ties amid record-high gas prices. He has agreed to meet with MBS on that trip, despite demands to sideline Bin Salman.
Khashoggi’s fiancé this week requested Biden to cancel the meeting, saying “you are insulting yourself” and “pouring oil on principles” by agreeing to sit down.
Jean-Pierre was repeatedly pressed on the matter in his regular briefing on Thursday by Washington Post reporter Matt Visser, who cited a US intelligence community report that assessed that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler ordered the operation. was.
“The executive summary of this report says ‘we assess that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the operation’ to capture and kill [Khashoggi]Visor said.
“And he issued the report, didn’t he?” Jean-Pierre said, at first side-stepping what Biden agreed with the finding.
“But does he agree with that assessment?” Visor pressed.
“I’m telling you this is something that the President takes very seriously. And he released that report, so clearly he wouldn’t release that report if it wasn’t something he believed in.” It is,” said Jean-Pierre.
The press secretary also had controversial exchanges on Thursday after reporters pressed on whether the White House would continue to release the dates when Biden tested negative for COVID-19.
Biden, 79, has never tested positive for the coronavirus “that I know of,” she said.
“We will be transparent about that,” she told Visor after a series of other inquiries on the matter from first- and second-line briefing room reporters.
Jean-Pierre said Biden is tested weekly for the virus as long as he is not considered to have “close contact” with an infected person, as defined by CDC guidelines. She said she had not been in close contact with anyone who has the virus.
The coronavirus continued to wade through Biden’s inner circle as Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg, ailing last week, and on Wednesday his chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, tested positive.
“The president has a regular testing cadence set by his doctor. As we have said many times, if he was a close contact as defined by the CDC because we follow him, we would update his testing cadence accordingly and Will share with you all,” she said.
But NBC’s Peter Alexander pressed Jean-Pierre over whether public information of the president’s negative test is becoming increasingly rare.
“I’m just confused because in the past people always told us the date of the most recent Test. So why can’t you tell us?” Alexander said, going back and forth with the press secretary, “Why has this changed? Because in the past they always told us.”
Jean-Pierre eventually said, “He’s tested once a week. I don’t have the date in front of me at the moment” and reiterated that if Biden had been in close contact with anyone, the frequency of testing would change. Will go