Trump administration ramps up rhetoric over lacking Saudi journalist


The President mentioned he had contacted the “highest ranges” of the Saudi authorities — presumably King Salman — to deal with the matter. And he revealed he deliberate to ask Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who appealed for Trump’s help in an open letter, to the White Home.

“This can be a dangerous scenario. We can not let this occur — to reporters, to anyone, we will not let this occur. And we’ll unravel it,” Trump mentioned.

Nonetheless, Trump acknowledged there was little readability on what exactly occurred to Khashoggi, who went lacking after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to acquire paperwork for his marriage. And he alluded to the sensitivities surrounding the matter, saying he’d want to not reveal which Saudi officers he spoke to about it.

“I’ve to search out out who did it,” Trump mentioned. “Individuals noticed him go in however they did not see him come out.”

The scaled up stress got here after members of Congress demanded the administration confront Saudi Arabia, a significant US safety and buying and selling associate that Trump has embraced. His first international cease as President was in Riyadh, the place he was welcomed with excessive pomp, together with large projections of his face alongside King Salman on the Ritz Carlton resort the place he was staying.

Trump mentioned Wednesday he discovered King Salman to be a “good man” with whom he speaks usually, however acknowledged the Khashoggi case may show to be an irritant.

“Now we have at all times had an excellent relationship,” he mentioned. “I am not comfortable about this.”

Members of Trump’s administration — together with son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner — have additionally fostered shut relationships with the dominion’s de facto chief, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has pushed by way of reforms within the kingdom however drawn scrutiny for a bloody crackdown on dissent. Final yr he oversaw the imprisonment of dozens of outstanding Saudis within the very Ritz resort Trump stayed throughout his go to.

As a columnist for The Washington Put up, Khashoggi was a frequent critic of the regime in Riyadh.

Kushner and nationwide safety adviser John Bolton phoned Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday, in keeping with the White Home. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo additionally spoke with the 33-year-old crown prince.

Turkish officials say a Saudi 'murder squad' is behind journalist's death

“In each calls they requested for extra particulars and for the Saudi authorities to be clear within the investigation course of,” press secretary Sarah Sanders mentioned in an announcement.

On Saturday, Turkish officers instructed the Washington Put up and Reuters that Khashoggi had been killed contained in the Saudi consulate. CNN has not been in a position to independently affirm these reviews, and the Saudi authorities has denied them.

Lawmakers on Wednesday spoke in harsh phrases concerning the case, warning of penalties if the Saudi regime is discovered to have ordered the killing.

“I’ve by no means been extra disturbed than I’m proper now,” mentioned Sen. Lindsay Graham, the South Carolina Republican who’s near Trump. “If this did in reality occur, if this man was murdered within the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, that may cross each line of normality within the worldwide neighborhood. If it did occur, there can be hell to pay.”

Talking throughout a radio interview earlier on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence mentioned the US “stands prepared to help in any method” within the investigation.

“The free world deserves solutions,” Pence mentioned. “And the reviews {that a} Saudi Arabian journalist could have been tragically murdered in Turkey must be deeply regarding to everybody who cherishes a freedom of the press and human rights throughout the globe.”

As of Wednesday, nonetheless, it didn’t seem as if Saudi Arabia or Turkey had made a proper request to the FBI for help within the investigation.

CNN’s Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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