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Donald Trump: I don’t want to listen to ‘vicious’ Jamal Khashoggi killing tape

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 18/11/2018 Olivia Tobin
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Local News RSS EN-GB

US President Donald Trump has said he “does not want to” listen to the “vicious” Jamal Khashoggi killing tape that was given to the US.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, the President was quizzed about a number of issues, from mid-term election results to White House reshuffling, and was probed over the murder of the journalist.

Mr Trump said he was told the tape was “very violent” and “terrible” and said he has been told what its contents were, but would not like to hear it himself.

He said: “We have the tape, I don’t want to hear the tape. There’s no reason for me to hear the tape”.

a man wearing glasses and looking at the camera: donaldtrump-0.jpg © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited donaldtrump-0.jpg
(Getty Images)

When asked why, he replied: “Because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it, I was told I really shouldn’t.”

He added: “It was very violent, very vicious and terrible.”

Mr Trump said he expects a full report into the Washington Post journalists’s death to be released on Tuesday.

Turkey has long maintained that it was in possession of a recording of the death and said it had been shared with officials from Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, the US and UK.

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Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 (PA)

Mr Trump was also questioned about the alleged role of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He said: “He told me he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times.”

Mr Trump later posed: “Will anybody really know?” what happened to Mr Khashoggi.

He maintained the US wanted to stick with Saudi Arabia as a close ally in the Middle East while interviewed, though.

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Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi (Amir Levy/Reuters)

"He did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved ... But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good,” he said.

During the interview, Mr Trump was also quizzed on his staff in the White House.

Mr Trump said he is not committing to a previous pledge to keep chief of staff John Kelly for the remainder of his ter.

He praised Mr Kelly's work ethic and much of what he brings to the position but added, "There are certain things that I don't like that he does."

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White House chief of staff John Kelly (AFP/Getty Images)

"There are a couple of things where it's just not his strength. It's not his fault. It's not his strength," said Mr Trump.

Asked whether he would keep Mr Kelly in his post through 2020, the president offered only that "it could happen."

Mr Trump had earlier pledged publicly Mr Kelly would remain through his first term in office, though many in the West Wing were sceptical.

Mr Trump said he was happy with his Cabinet but was thinking about changing "three or four or five positions."

One of them is Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen, whose departure is now considered inevitable.

Mr Trump said in the interview that he could keep her on, but he made clear that he wished she would be tougher in implementing his hard-line immigration policies and enforcing border security.

The list of potential replacements for Nielsen includes a career lawman, two military officers and former acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement head.

But her eventual replacement will find there's no getting around the immigration laws and court challenges that have thwarted the president's hard-line agenda at every turn - even if there's better personal chemistry.

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