Trump: Answers on Saudi journalist forthcoming

Trump says Saudi Crown Prince denied any knowledge of circumstances surrounding disappearance of Khashoggi, warns against rushing to judge.

Ben Ariel ,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday 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 journalist Jamal 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 criticized the rapidly mounting global condemnation of Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi mystery, warning of a rush to judgment and echoing the Saudis’ request for patience.

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.”

Trump's comments came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Tuesday with the Crown Prince in Riyadh. On Wednesday, Pompeo is scheduled to fly to Ankara, Turkey, where he will hold talks with Turkish officials about the case, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, according to Fox News.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and US resident who became increasingly critical of the Saudi Crown Prince, has not been seen since he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to sort out marriage paperwork on October 2.

Turkish police concluded last weekend that Khashoggi, who was also a contributor to The Washington Post, was murdered inside the Saudi mission, a claim Saudi Arabia has denied.

However, reports on CNN on Monday indicated that the Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong and that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey.

Trump, after speaking with Saudi King Salman about the case, dispatched Pompeo on Monday to speak to the king about Khashoggi's disappearance.