President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton got into a heated exchange with reporters on Tuesday, arguing that it won’t be useful to listen to the recordings of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi because he doesn’t speak Arabic.
“No, I haven’t listened to it. Why do you think I should? What do you think I’ll learn from it?” he said adamantly. “Unless you speak Arabic, what are you going to get from it?”
“I don’t speak Arabic,” he insisted.
The comments from the top Trump adviser, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under former President George W. Bush, came following media reports that the White House would not allow CIA director Gina Haspel or other intelligence officials to brief the Senate about their findings in regards to Khashoggi’s killing.
“I mean, if they were speaking Korean, I wouldn’t learn any more from it either,” Bolton said, suggesting that he could get just as much information from reading a transcript. He also reiterated that he stands behind the president’s support for Saudi Arabia, despite numerous intelligence reports and analysts alleging that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the journalist’s death.
Last week, Trump issued an official statement hailing the kingdom as a “great ally,” citing significant economic ties and regional security as his reasons for standing behind the kingdom’s authoritarian regime.