US asks for audio and video on Saudi journalist

President Trump says US requested audio and video from Turkey related to the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Ben Ariel,

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the US has requested audio and video from Turkey related to the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"We have asked for it, if it exists," Trump said in the Oval Office, later adding that it "probably does."

Trump said he expected to get a "full report" from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he returns to the U.S. from meetings with Saudi and Turkish officials, reported The Hill.

"I want to find out what happened, where is the fault, and we will probably know that by the end of the week," he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, several media outlets reported the existence of audio recordings which prove that Khashoggi was brutally tortured and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, who was a resident of the US, entered the consulate two weeks ago and has not been seen since.

According to Sky News, in one recording Saudi Arabia's Consul General Mohammad al-Otaibi can be heard speaking with Khashoggi, after which there was “a beating.”

The report says the recording reveals that Khashoggi was “drugged” and “killed,” before a Saudi forensics expert told others to put in headphones and listen to music while he took “seven minutes” to dismember the body.

The new details could raise pressure on the US to confront Saudi Arabia over the fate of Khashoggi.

Trump on Wednesday again denied he is providing cover to Saudi Arabia, one of the United States' closest partners in the Middle East, in the Khashoggi case.

"No not at all, I just want to find out what’s happening," he said.

Asked why he hasn't directed the FBI to investigate, Trump noted that the journalist "wasn't a citizen of this country" and suggested he wouldn't tell the public even if he did order an FBI probe.

"Maybe we have," he said. "Why should I tell you?”

On Tuesday, Trump said he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who “denied any knowledge” of the circumstances leading to the mysterious disappearance and presumed death of Khashoggi.

“Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate. He was with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during the call, and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly,” Trump tweeted.

In a subsequent interview with The Associated Press, Trump cautioned against rushing to judgment about Khashoggi’s fate.

Comparing the case of Khashoggi to the allegations of sexual assault leveled against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, the President said, “I think we have to find out what happened first. Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”