Trump, after rogue killers comment, doubts unreleased Saudi report on Khashoggi

Fredrick Soto
October 16, 2018

The report said that the Saudi government was preparing to say Jamal Khashoggi died during an interrogation that went wrong.

Turkish officials say they fear that Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who had been in living self-imposed exile in the United States, was killed and dismembered after he entered the consulate.

However, unconfirmed reports in the U.S. media suggest Saudi Arabia is preparing to admit that Mr Khashoggi died as a result of an interrogation that went wrong and that the original intention had been to abduct him.

The government of Saudi Arabia on Sunday vowed to retaliate with "greater action" if the Trump administration follows through on punishing that country for its alleged involvement in the apparent murder of a dissident earlier this month, Fox News reported.

The Saudis will say the operation was carried out "without clearance" from the ruling royal family, CNN reports.

Speaking at a trip to survey hurricane damage in Florida on Monday, Mr Trump admitted he had heard the reports of an imminent Saudi admission, but said "it's just a rumour of a report coming out".

"The king firmly denied any knowledge of it", Mr Trump said. In statements after the call, both praised the creation of a joint Saudi-Turkish probe.

Trump says he doesn't "want to get" into King Salman's mind, but says, "it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers". State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said of Khashoggi's disappearance, "We're not going to make any judgments about what happened to him". It said one of the sources told them that the intention was to abduct Khashoggi and it had not been authorized by the Saudi government.

It was unclear what specific measures, if any, Mr Trump is considering against Saudi Arabia, which is the world's largest oil exporter, and one of his top allies.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post and Politico reported that two lobbying groups - BGR and Glover Park - have said that they would no longer represent Saudi Arabia.

But in the wake of Khashoggi's disappearance, many media and entertainment companies have been distancing themselves from the kingdom.

Trump said he would be calling King Salman of Saudi Arabia to discuss the Khashoggi matter.

Mr Trump has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and is under worldwide and domestic pressure to help determine what happened to Mr Khashoggi and punish Saudi Arabia if investigations show its government had him killed.

But privately, others are now questioning whether the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the man once hailed as a visionary saviour of Saudi Arabia, has gone too far.

Riyadh has struck back at the allegations, calling them "lies" and threatening retaliation over any possible economic sanctions by USA or other western countries.

Also expressing support was Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who famously announced his resignation during a televised statement from Saudi Arabia in late 2017 before rescinding his decision.

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