The United States' top diplomat is helping Saudi Arabia's king and crown prince shield themselves from the Jamal Khashoggi murder scandal, according to a news outlet focusing on Middle East affairs.
London-based Middle East Eye claimed a senior Saudi source said King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were using a roadmap drawn up by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to see out the scandal.
Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the US, was a columnist for the Washington Post and often criticised the royal family. He was killed on October 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish and Saudi authorities say he was killed inside the consulate by a team from the kingdom after he went there to get marriage documents. The CIA has concluded that the crown prince ordered Khashoggi's assassination but the US State Department, which Pompeo heads, is holding judgment, while Trump said at the weekend that the White house would have "a full report" on the killing within days.
Pompeo delivered his plan in person during a meeting with the king and crown prince last month in Riyadh, Middle East Eye reported, quoting a source it said was familiar with Pompeo's talks with the Saudi leaders.
It said the plan included an option to pin the Saudi journalist's murder on an innocent member of the ruling al-Saud family in order to insulate those at the very top.
It reported that the person had not yet been chosen, and that Saudi leaders were reserving the use of that plan in case the pressure on the crown prince became too much.
"We would not be surprised if that happens," the source reportedly said.
The source said Pompeo outlined his plan on October 16, two weeks after Khashoggi was killed.