Transcript: Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir on "Face the Nation," February 10, 2019

The following is a transcript of the interview with Adel al-Jubeir, minister of state for foreign affairs of Saudi Arabia, that aired Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, on "Face the Nation."


ADEL AL-JUBEIR: The- the death of Jamal Khashoggi was a mass- massive tragedy. It was a mistake. It was committed by officials of the Saudi government acting outside their scope of authority. The king ordered investigation. The investigation led to the arrest of a number of individuals. Those- 11 of those individuals have been charged by the public prosecutor, and the trials have begun. We have said we will investigate. We will hold those accountable- those responsible accountable and we will punish them. The crown prince had nothing to do with this. There was no order given to murder Jamal Khashoggi and- and the whole country is shocked by this. The trial is taking place. What I tell people is, "Wait until the legal process plays out and then judge us. But don't judge us before the process is complete."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that what the Secretary of State told you, that he agrees with your assessment that the crown prince had nothing to do with it?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: I believe that the positions of the president and the secretary of state were very clear. They said that the evidence doesn't- there is no evidence that points in that direction.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The intelligence community, though, had a very different conclusion here and after the CIA director briefed Congress on the details of what the CIA had found, the Senate then passed a bill saying undoubtedly the crown prince knew about what happened.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: I don't know what the CIA briefed them but I don't- I believe that the same briefing that the president and the secretary of state and the secretary of defense at the time received did not point in that direction. So I think there's a- there's- there may be emotions here, there may be exaggerations here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Have you been briefed on what the CIA determined?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: I personally have not. No. But we have communications with them through intelligence channels.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly. And that intelligence relationship is one of the strongest assets of the work between our two countries. So I know you would think highly of the CIA and its assessment. When it comes to your own internal investigations, in October is when this murder happened.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Where is Jamal Khashoggi's body?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: We don't know.

MARGARET BRENNAN: What do you mean you don't know?

ADEL AL-JUREIB: We don't know. They said that the- the public prosecutor is working to try to establish this fact. We have asked for evidence from Turkey, and he asked them several times, formally, through formal legal channels to provide evidence. We are still waiting to receive any evidence they may have.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You're blaming the Turkish government?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: No, I'm blaming the murderers who committed this crime.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have them, you say, in custody though.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: They can't tell you where the body is?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: We are still investigating. There- we have now- a number of- of possibilities and we're asking them what they did with the body, and I think this investigation is ongoing, and I would expect that eventually we will find the truth.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The New York Times has new reporting out, and I'm sure you've seen the story, detailing how U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of the crown prince telling a top aide in 2017 that he would "use a bullet" on Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi if he did not return to the kingdom and end his criticism of the Saudi government. What was he talking about?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: I'm not going to comment on reports based on anonymous sources. We have seen many such reports in- over the past two or three months that turned out to be incorrect, or that turned out to- that turned out to be incorrect frankly. And so I- I don't know this- this- the background. The crown prince, we know, did not order this. This was not a government sanctioned operation. We have an investigation and we have a trial. And many things have been put out that turned out to be incorrect.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Did the crown prince know of the murder? You're saying he didn't direct it.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Of course not. Of course not. Nobody in Saudi Arabia knew about the murder except the people who did it. That's why when the team came back we said, "As far as we know he left the consulate through the backdoor." It turned out to be false. And that's when the king asked for an investigation to be launched. The prosecution launched the investigation. The public prosecutor determined that something went wrong, brought in the people who were in the mission and basically- detained them and questioned them and established that yes, they did in fact murder him.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You- you realize though that there's a lot of skepticism, that there would be this level of dissent to have that large number of people defy the monarch and the crown prince and carry out such a rogue operation?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: It's- Oliver North was involved in Iran-Contra. And he thought that Ronald Reagan wanted this. And Ronald Reagan did not want this at all. Abu Ghraib, you had people abusing prisoners and the president and the vice president and the secretary of state were not even aware of it. Unfortunately people make mistakes. Unfortunately people exceed their authorities. Unfortunately people do things wrong. We have done the right thing. We acknowledged that this happened. We acknowledged that these were officials of the Saudi government. We acknowledged that this- they had no authority to do this, and we jailed them. And now we're putting them on trial.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon and owns the Washington Post, is accusing AMI, which publishes The National Enquirer, for essentially trying to extort him with these incriminating photos. He personally said though that the Post's "essential and unrelenting coverage of the murder," specifically of Khashoggi, was "undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles." Did the Saudi government have anything to do with these leaks to AMI?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Absolutely not. This sounds to me like a soap opera. I've been watching it on television and reading about it in the paper. This is something between the two parties. We have nothing to do with it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, can you say though that the Saudi government and any of its employees or its, you know, contractors that it works with, definitively that they had no contact--

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: Yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: --with David Pecker or AMI?

ADEL AL-JUBEIR: That's as far as I'm aware. And I believe I would be aware. We have ab- absolutely nothing to do with this. We- maybe some of our citizens read The National Enquirer when they're in the United States. Other citizens watch the soap opera unfold on television, but that's it.

We and our partners use cookies to understand how you use our site, improve your experience and serve you personalized content and advertising. Read about how we use cookies in our cookie policy and how you can control them by clicking Manage Settings. By continuing to use this site, you accept these cookies.