Trump said it 'certainly looks' like Jamal Khashoggi is dead

Kenny Grant
October 19, 2018

Turkish reports say Mr Khashoggi, who had written columns critical of the Saudi government for The Washington Post over the past year while he lived in self-imposed exile in the United States, was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by members of an assassination squad with ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"Unless the miracle of all miracles happens, I would acknowledge that he's dead", Trump told New York Times reporters inside the Oval Office shortly before speaking to the press at Joint Base Andrews. "That's based on everything - intelligence coming from every side".

The White House referred questions to the State Department which denied Pompeo had heard the recording. "It's bad, bad stuff". According to a Turkish daily newspaper, which claimed it had obtained tapes from the consulate, Khashoggi was tortured and had his fingers cut off during interrogation and then decapitated.

Separately, ABC News has also learned that Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate following a struggle that lasted eight minutes and that they believe he died of strangulation.

The Saudi government has strongly denied having anything to do with the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi.

Marking a shift in tone from his earlier comments, Trump said he was waiting for details from "about three different investigations so we can get to the bottom of" Khoshoggi's disappearance.

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The minister echoed President Emmanuel Macron's remarks last week on Khashoggi's disappearance, calling it a "very serious" matter.

Pompeo declined to comment on what the United States believes might have happened to Khashoggi but made clear Washington takes the situation "very seriously".

"I think it's important for us all to remember, too - we have a long, since 1932, a long strategic relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia", Pompeo told reporters, also calling Saudi Arabia "an important counterterrorism partner".

Cabinet ministers, federal officials and embassy staff will skip the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, which is sometimes referred to as "Davos in the Desert", a senior government insider said Thursday.

Trump previously speculated without providing evidence that "rogue killers" could be responsible.

The crown prince is next in line for the throne, which is held by his ailing, aged father King Salman. And Pompeo, just back from talks with Saudi and Turkish leaders, said earlier Thursday that the USA needed more facts before deciding "how, or if" to respond.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin abandoned plans to attend an October 23-25 investor conference in Riyadh as did executives from Goldman Sachs Group Inc., putting the high-profile event in question. A "farm house or villa" may have been used for the disposal of remains, the official said.

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