Donald Trump Defends Saudi Arabia, Compares to Brett Kavanaugh Hearing: 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent' Perception

President Donald Trump defended Saudi Arabia from criticism over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in an interview on Tuesday.

"Here we go again with, you know, 'You're guilty until proven innocent,'" Trump told the Associated Press in an interview conducted at the White House.

Khashoggi was last seen at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he disappeared on October 2. Turkish investigators have alleged that a Saudi hit team killed the U.S.-based dissident journalist, but Trump has seemed willing to accept the Saudis' denials of any involvement in the disappearance and, in the interview with the AP, compared the accusations facing Saudi Arabia to the ones of sexual misconduct against Justice Brett Kavanaugh leading up to his confirmation to the Supreme Court.

"I don't like that," Trump said. "We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh, and he was innocent all the way, as far as I'm concerned."

Trump added that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still planned on making his scheduled trip to Saudi Arabia for a conference, but that could change depending on the outcome of the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.

"I think we'll also be guided by what other countries are doing," Trump said.

Saudi Arabia is a key ally in the Trump administration's agenda in the Middle East. Trump spoke by phone on Tuesday with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and on Monday with King Salman. He said both denied any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi, who has been a contributor to The Washington Post and a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed and other Saudi leaders.

After Turkish investigators searched the consulate Monday night, a Turkish official told CNN that Khashoggi's body was "cut into pieces after he was killed two weeks ago at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul."

Trump been reluctant to criticize the Saudi government and continued to reject demands that the U.S. cut weapon sales to Saudi Arabia. The president also suggested that the disappearance may have involved "rogue killers."

On Tuesday, however, Trump told the AP that the "rogue killers" theory was a "feeling" he had after speaking with Saudi leaders, although he clarified that King Salman did not use the term himself.

Trump's reference to Kavanaugh comes less than a month after the judge faced public allegations of sexual misconduct from women including Christine Blasey Ford, who alleged that he sexually assaulted her during their high school years. Kavanaugh denied the allegations before being confirmed in a Senate vote.

Donald Trump Defends Saudi Arabia, Compares to Brett Kavanaugh Hearing: 'Guilty Until Proven Innocent' Perception | U.S.