The State Department on Saturday insisted that despite recent reports, the U.S. had not yet reached a determination regarding the death of writer and activist Jamal Khashoggi, and that there remain “numerous unanswered questions.”
The department’s statement came a day after The Wall Street Journal said the CIA had determined that Khashoggi’s death came at the directive of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). That story was first reported on by The Washington Post.
The Saudi government has denied the claim, according to The Associated Press.
“The United States government is determined to hold all those responsible for the killing of Jamal Khashoggi accountable. Recent reports indicating that the U.S. government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in the Saturday statement. “There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts.”
Separately, a U.S. government official told Fox News that no final assessment or conclusion has been reached, nor has a “smoking gun” been found. Policymakers have been briefed on current intel, the official said.
The CIA’s reported conclusion came as a result of “an understanding of how Saudi Arabia works,” a U.S. official with knowledge of the situation told The Journal. Khashoggi’s death “would not and could not have happened” if MBS was not connected, an official told the outlet.
The CIA did not offer a comment on the story when contacted by Fox News on Friday.
Separately, a government official told Fox News on Friday that the Khashoggi assessment was not a public document and was not aware of plans to make it public. The official said the intelligence has been briefed at very senior levels.
Khashoggi was killed last month in the Saudi Consulate in Turkey. Saudi Arabia previously claimed that he was killed in a fight.
On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced it was sanctioning 17 Saudi government officials over Khashoggi’s death.
President Trump, while aboard Air Force One on Saturday, spoke on the phone with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and CIA Director Gina Haspel, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
The president flew to California on Saturday to visit with those affected by the massive and lethal wildfires there. The inferno burning in the northern part of the state has killed at least 71 people. But before he left he spoke to reporters about the Khashoggi story, telling them that when it came to the crown prince, “as of this moment we were told that he did not play a role. We're going to have to find out what they have to say."
Also on Thursday, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir of Saudi Arabia insisted that the crown prince did not play a role in the Washington Post contributor's death.
Fox News’ Rich Edson, Catherine Herridge, Adam Shaw and Matt Richardson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.