Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting with Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman last week, replete with broad grins and obsequiously grateful press releases, struck a discordant note with many in the light of the meeting’s purpose: to suss out the details of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
According to a Sunday Vanity Fair report, the “grip and grin” particularly disturbed D.C.’s diplomatic and intelligence corps.
“Pompeo did not handle this well,” a former State Department official told Vanity Fair. “I don’t think it would have been difficult to be more somber in meetings and more nuanced in comments afterward.”
“Certainly from where I sit, it is discouraging to see the administration seemingly subordinate our values to other interests in such an egregious case,” a current State Department official added.
Pompeo is taking the lead from his boss, as President Donald Trump has shown extreme reluctance to punish bin Salman, with whom he and his son-in-law Jared Kushner are close.
“I would love it if he wasn’t responsible,” Trump added of Khashoggi’s murder.
However, bin Salman’s distance from the event is getting harder and harder to believe, as reports surfaced Monday that multiple phone calls were made from the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where Khashoggi died to the crown prince on the day of the murder.