Trump claims ‘rogue’ killers could have murdered Jamal Khashoggi after Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any part in the disappearance of dissident journalist as the president dispatches Mike Pompeo to the Middle East

Monday, October 15, 2018
By Paul Martin

Trump tweeted that he has spoken to Saudi King Salman, 82, about the missing Washington Post columnist’s disappearance
Journalist Jamal Khashoggi went to Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October
He has not been seen since and Turkish officials fear he has been murdered
Saudis deny allegations and have ordered internal investigation into mystery
Oil prices rose after Saudi Arabia issued a thinly veiled threat to cut production
Cleaners were seen entering the consulate just hours before joint inspection

15 October 2018

President Trump said Monday that he has spoken to Saudi’s King Salman about the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and he ‘firmly denied’ any involvement in the journalist’s disappearance.

Trump said that he would send a top U.S. official, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to Middle East to confront Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in person – but wouldn’t say whether he believed the Saudi leader’s ‘flat’ denial of wrongdoing in a 20-minute phone conversation.

The president had a theory of his own as to what may have happened to the Saudi-born writer who Turkey says was lured to his death earlier this month in Istanbul.

He suggested without evidence that ‘rogue killers’ could have been responsible for the disappearance that Trump also framed as a murder.

As he left the White House to board Marine One on the South Lawn, the president said the king’s denial ‘could not have been stronger’ and that is all he currently has to go off of.

‘He said it very strongly,’ Trump said when pressed to give his assessment of the Saudi king’s trustworthiness.

With a $110 billion arms deal at stake, Trump and other U.S. officials have been loathe to blame Salman’s kingdom for the suspected murder of the Washington Post columnist who had become an outspoken Saudi government critic.

Trump has at the same time attempted to signal that his administration takes violence against the free press seriously given his own tormenting at rallies of ‘fake news’ journalists he’s unabashedly claimed are the ‘enemy of the people.’

‘We’re going to just see what happened. We have to see what happened,’ Trump said Saturday in the Oval Office as he celebrated the return of an American pastor who had been detained in Istanbul. ‘There’s plenty of things we can do that are very tough. Let’s see what happened first.’

Trump said then that he had not reviewed the video evidence that Turkey says it has to prove that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul but that he would be seeing it soon. He did not say Monday whether that remains the case.

He promised in remarks to reporters to ‘get to the bottom’ of the suspected killing that he says King Salman personally denied having ordered.

‘I can only tell you that his denial to me in this one very you know relatively fast phone call, probably lasted 20 minutes, his denial to me could not have been stronger that he had no knowledge. And it sounds like he and also the crown prince had no knowledge,’ Trump said.

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