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Investigative reporter Michael Isikoff discusses Jamal Khashoggi's murder - "The Takeout" podcast

Journalist Michael Isikoff on "The Takeout"
Journalist Michael Isikoff on "The Takeout" 48:09

During the presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised that he would make Saudi Arabia a "pariah" if elected, after the murder of the U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi under the orders of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

But since his election, Mr. Biden has not done anything to alienate the Saudis or "make them a pariah in any way," said Michael Isikoff, the chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News and the host of the podcast "Conspiracyland."

Listen to this episode on ART19

CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett spoke with Isikoff for this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. The third season of Isikoff's podcast is focused on Khashoggi's murder, delving into "how it was orchestrated by the operatives of the de facto head of state of Saudi Arabia." 


Highlights from this week's episode:

  • Michael Isikoff on Jamal Khashoggi's death: "I think its the most grisly murder that I can think of in modern times, all the more shocking its carried out by operatives of a foreign government that is a U.S. ally."
  • Trump administration's relationship with MBS: "They were doing everything they could working through Jared Kushner, who was exchanging hundreds of WhatsApp messages with MBS himself, to prop up MBS, protect him, and that's what they did after this murder."
  • Authoritarianism around the world: "This has to be looked at as part of a much larger story, and that is the sort of wave of authoritarian repression that's going on around the world, and the nexus among these authoritarian regimes."

"I think it's the most grisly murder that I can think of in modern times, all the more shocking its carried out by operatives of a foreign government that is a U.S. ally," Isikoff said.

Khashoggi was murdered in a Saudi consulate in Turkey in 2018. A report released by the Biden administration in February found that the crown prince, known as MBS, "approved an operation in Istanbul, Turkey, to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

Isikoff described this report as "very skimpy," and noted that the U.S. imposed no sanctions against MBS. He also pointed out that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had spoken with MBS just days before the Biden administration released the report about Khashoggi's death.

Isikoff said that the "impunity" with which MBS acted "begins under Donald Trump's presidency." This season of "Conspiracyland" details "the ways that the Trump White House basically protected MBS." After Khashoggi was murdered, Isikoff said, "the Trump administration had spent two years cultivating the Saudis as their principal ally in the Mid-East."

"They were doing everything they could working through Jared Kushner, who was exchanging hundreds of WhatsApp messages with MBS himself, to prop up MBS, protect him, and that's what they did after this murder," Isikoff said.

Isikoff said that Khashoggi's death was a just a symptom of a wave of authoritarianism that is rolling across the world.

"This has to be looked at as part of a much larger story, and that is the sort of wave of authoritarian repression that's going on around the world, and the nexus among these authoritarian regimes," Isikoff said.

For more of Major's conversation with Isikoff, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunesSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).    

Producers: Arden Farhi, Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sara Cook and Eleanor Watson
CBSN Production: Eric Soussanin, Julia Boccagno and Grace Segers
Show email: TakeoutPodcast@cbsnews.com
Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
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