United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Trump claimed there was “nothing definitive” linking Salman to Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, The Guardian reported.

On November 16, the Central Intelligence Agency had concluded after an investigation that Salman ordered Khashoggi’s killing. However, Trump’s statement on Tuesday sought to bring that conclusion into doubt.

“Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump wrote in a statement titled “Standing with Saudi Arabia”. “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

“It is America first to me, it is all about America first,” Trump said, in an acknowledgement that the matter involves US strategic interests, ABC News reported. “I’m not going to destroy the world economy and I’m not going to destroy the economy for our country by being foolish with Saudi Arabia.”

“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr Khashoggi,” the US president claimed. He added that oil prices would hit $150 a barrel if the US relationship with Saudi Arabia was hurt.

However, Trump acknowledged that the United States Congress may take a different view of the matter.

On November 15, the US announced economic sanctions on 17 Saudi persons suspected of being involved in the murder. They include top aides of Salman. Saudi Arabia said it had indicted 11 suspects for Khashoggi’s murder and prosecutors sought the death penalty for five of them. The public prosecutor exonerated Salman and instead accused two senior officials of giving the orders to murder Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a vocal critic of the Saudi regime, went missing on October 2 when he was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul for paperwork for his upcoming marriage. Saudi Arabia initially claimed to have no information about his disappearance but later admitted he was killed by agents working without Riyadh’s knowledge.