In the latest version of the events presented by the Saudi prosecutor on Thursday, a 15-member squad was formed to bring Khashoggi back from Istanbul "by means of persuasion" - but instead ended up killing the journalist and dismembering his body in a "rogue" operation.
President Donald Trump said he would not listen to a recording of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi even as an upcoming report on the slaying threatens to put him in a diplomatic bind: how to admonish Riyadh for the slaying yet maintain strong ties with a close ally.
But he also added the U.S. wanted to find a way of preserving a "strong and historic partnership" with Saudi Arabia.
"I'm president - I have to take a lot of things into consideration", Trump said.
In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince's brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. The Saudi government has denied that claim.
Both the ambassador himself and a spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in Washington have said that the claim was false.
It said Prince Khalid told Khashoggi that "he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so", and claimed the call was made at the direction of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
His office later said that so far as Saudi Arabia was concerned, the highest-level suspect was former deputy intelligence chief Ahmad al Assiri - and that the crown prince had no knowledge of the killing.
Trump and top officials of his administration have said Saudi Arabia must be held to account for any involvement in Khashoggi's death, but they have also stressed the importance of the US-Saudi alliance.
Neither the White House nor the US State Department have commented on the reports, but sources say they have been informed of the CIA's conclusions.
The CIA had briefed other parts of the United States government, including Congress, on its assessment, sources told Reuters on Friday, a development that complicates Trump's efforts to preserve ties with the key United States ally.
The State Department confirmed it will continue investigating the murder of Mr Khashoggi, who was killed in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consular on October 2.
The US President said: "As of this moment, we were told that bin Salman did not play a role".
In October, Khashoggi, a well-known critic of the Saudi government, went missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Turkey for marriage papers.
Trump has called the killing a botched operation that was carried out very poorly and has said 'the cover-up was one of the worst cover-ups in the history of cover-ups'. He said Saturday "the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was an atrocity".
However, the New York Times said that while telephone intercepts showed Prince Mohammed was working to lure Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, he had not said in the calls that he wanted the journalist killed. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders provided no details of his call but said the president has confidence in the Central Intelligence Agency. They give us a lot of jobs and a lot of business and economic development.
The top prosecutor in Saudi Arabia announced he will seek the death penalty against five men suspected in the killing.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his government has shared the audio with Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.
"After the murder, the victim's body was dismembered by the individuals that have committed the murder and was transferred outside the consulate building", the office said.
What was done with Khashoggi's remains afterwards is still unknown.