The White House is standing steadfast by Saudi Arabia despite weeks of international outcry over the kingdom's alleged involvement in the death of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
While President Donald Trump has made it clear he will not pursue punitive action despite a reported CIA assessment tying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the murder, more fallout may come in the form of Congressional action. The U.S.-Saudi relationship remains intact, but the kingdom's image has taken significant blows, prompting questions about the stability of the crown prince's leadership.
The monarchy for weeks sought to manage the narrative and stifle criticism surrounding the death of the journalist, a Washington Post columnist known for his criticism of the royal family. Khashoggi himself had been living in self-imposed exile in Virginia, after having worked in Saudi media for decades and later serving as advisor to senior Saudi diplomat Prince Turki al Faisal.
The Saudi government denies the CIA's allegations, flatly calling its assessment "false" and has rejected reports suggesting a change in the kingdom's line of succession could be required. After changing its version of events several times, Riyadh maintains that the murder was premeditated and carried out by "rogue killers" without the crown prince's knowledge.
The 33-year-old son of King Salman, known for his assertive foreign policy, liberalizing reforms and aggressive bombing campaign over neighboring Yemen, is arguably the region's most powerful leader and enjoys a warm personal relationship with Trump and his advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Riyadh has become a lynchpin in the Trump administration's Middle East policy, which centers around isolating the Saudi Kingdom's rival Iran and keeping oil prices under control.