|Mohammed bin Salman,and the Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the documentary The Dissident|
Despite promising to punish senior Saudi leaders while on the campaign trail, President Joe Biden declined to apply sanctions to the one the US intelligence community determined is responsible for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
CNN reports the choice not to punish Prince Mohammed directly puts into sharp relief the type of decision-making that becomes more complicated for a president versus a candidate, and demonstrates the difficulty in breaking with a troublesome ally in a volatile region.
On Friday, Biden's administration released an unclassified intelligence report on Khashoggi's death, an action his predecessor refused to take as he downplayed US intelligence. The report from the director of national intelligence says the crown prince, known as MBS, directly approved the killing of Khashoggi. But while Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced visa restrictions that affected 76 Saudis involved in harassing activists and journalists, he didn't announce measures that touch the prince. And while a sanctions list from the Treasury Department named a former deputy intelligence chief and the Saudi Royal Guard's rapid intervention force, the crown prince wasn't mentioned.