Trump: Saudi King denies knowledge of Khashoggi

President Trump tweeted that he spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and that he denied any knowledge of what happened to missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Posted: Oct 16, 2018 7:36 AM
Updated: Oct 16, 2018 7:51 AM

US President Donald Trump has spoken to Saudi King Salman over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and will send Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the situation with the monarch.

Trump said in a tweet on Monday that the King denied any knowledge of the journalist's whereabouts. Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and a Saudi royal insider-turned-critic, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 and has not been seen since.

Saudi authorities maintain Khashoggi left the consulate the same afternoon, but have provided no evidence of that.

"Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened 'to our Saudi Arabian citizen.' He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!," Trump tweeted.

International pressure is mounting on Riyadh to explain the journalist's disappearance. Saudi Arabia has given Turkey permission to search its Istanbul consulate Monday afternoon, a Turkish diplomatic source told CNN.

Saudi officials first granted permission for the consulate to be searched last week, but later asked for a delay and no search has yet taken place. Turkish officials also want to search the nearby consul general's residence, and have repeatedly accused the Saudis of failing to cooperate with their investigation.

Khashoggi's disappearance has created a diplomatic rift between Saudi and the West, with the UK, France and Germany demanding a "credible investigation" into the events and US President Donald Trump warning of serious retribution if the Saudis are found to be behind his possible death.

A joint Turkish-Saudi working group into the case has been proposed, but the results of a separate, internal Saudi investigation should be made public soon, a Saudi official with knowledge of the probe told CNN on Monday.

The Saudi official said that a royal decree was issued Friday directing the public prosecutor to conduct an internal investigation into the Khashoggi case, based on intelligence shared with Saudi Arabia by Turkey.

The official said that although a joint investigation team was cooperating on the ground, the Saudi "leadership had felt that an internal investigation was needed to make sure no stone is left unturned to unfold the truth."

On Sunday, Washington and Riyadh traded a series of threats, with Trump warning of the potential for "severe punishment" and Saudi officials threatening to retaliate if the US imposed sanctions. Riyadh later softened its tone.

"There's something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that were the case. So we're going to have to see," Trump said in a "60 Minutes" interview broadcast Sunday. "We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment."

Saudi Arabia's stock market fell as much as 7% on Sunday amid fears of sanctions. The index recovered some ground later to close 3.5% down. The market's drop of as much as 9% since Khashoggi vanished has wiped out all the market's gains in 2018, although it is still up 8% from a year ago.

Not clear if Saudis will allow comprehensive search

The news that Turkey could enter the consulate comes a day after Saudi King Salman called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the Khashoggi case.

On Sunday, the two leaders agreed on a joint working group to look into the journalist's disappearance -- three days after a similar announcement regarding the formation of a working group.

On Saturday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saudi Arabia "must cooperate" and allow the chief prosecutor's office and experts to search the premises.

Turkish investigators are pushing for complete access for forensic teams to enter the consulate and the nearby consul general's residence, according to Turkish media reports. It was unclear whether the Saudis would allow the comprehensive search at both premises that the Turks have requested permission to carry out.

Turkish authorities believe 15 Saudi men who arrived in Istanbul on October 2 were connected to Khashoggi's disappearance and possible murder. At least some of them appear to have high-level connections in the Saudi government.

On Friday, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.

His fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate, says she did not see him re-emerge.

International companies pull out

Amid the diplomatic fallout over Khashoggi's disappearance, international firms are pulling out of a high-profile investment summit, the Future Investment Initiative conference, dubbed "Davos in the Desert," due to take place later this month in Riyadh and to be hosted by Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The latest high profile invitee to say they would not attend the conference was the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, a spokesperson confirmed Sunday.

In a joint statement on Sunday, the foreign ministers of the UK, France and Germany said "light must be shed" on Khashoggi's disappearance and demanded a "credible investigation."

British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt on Sunday urged Saudi Arabia to explain what happened to Khashoggi, saying, "if they have got nothing to hide, then they will and should cooperate."

"If, as they say, this terrible murder didn't happen, then where is Jamal Khashoggi? That's what the world wants to know," said Hunt.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday declined to confirm whether US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would still be attending the conference in Riyadh.

"I think we need to continue to evaluate the facts and we'll make that decision -- I talked to Secretary Mnuchin about it last night, we'll be taking a look at it through the rest of the week," Pompeo, alongside President Trump, told reporters in the Oval Office on Saturday.

Doubts are also growing over whether British Trade Secretary Liam Fox will attend the Riyadh conference, the BBC reported Sunday citing diplomatic sources.

Arab countries express solidarity

In what appeared to be a coordinated response, a number of Arab countries gave their support to Saudi Arabia. Oman, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all put out statements on Sunday saying they express solidarity with Saudi Arabia. The Palestinian Authority also put out a statement of support.

In a strongly worded op-ed published later on Sunday, Turki Aldakhil, general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, warned that if the US imposed sanctions on Riyadh "it will stab its own economy to death," cause oil prices to reach as high as $200 a barrel, lead Riyadh to permit a Russian military base in the city of Tabuk, and drive the Middle East into the arms of Iran.

Faisal bin Farhan, a senior adviser at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, DC, said on his official Twitter account Sunday that the op-ed "did not reflect the thinking of the Saudi leadership."

Riyadh later tried to soften its confrontational tone, with King Salman speaking on Sunday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Khashoggi's disappearance.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington offered a milder statement in a tweet on Sunday.

"To help clarify recently issued Saudi statement, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends its appreciation to all, including the US administration, for refraining from jumping to conclusions on the ongoing investigation," the statement said.

A delegation from Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey for the investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported Friday.

But last week a senior Turkish official speaking on the condition of anonymity told CNN that the Saudis were not cooperating with the investigation: "They are not open to cooperating."

'Working assumption' is murder

A US official familiar with the intelligence told CNN that the US had intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him.

Washington's "working assumption" is that Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate in Istanbul, according to a US official familiar with the latest intelligence. "We are pretty clear eyed it is likely to have happened and it didn't end well," the official said. The source did caution that this was the latest assessment and no conclusions had been made.

However, last week Trump said he was reluctant to take action, particularly on the issue of arms sales. "There are other things we can do," he told reporters at the White House.

The US signed a nearly $110 billion defense deal with Saudi Arabia in May 2017, when Trump made Saudi Arabia a stop on his first foreign trip as president. The stop was seen, in part, as an endorsement of the strong relationship between Trump, Jared Kushner -- his son-in-law and senior adviser -- and bin Salman.

Over the weekend a US senior administration official said that the US hasn't really dealt much with the Turks on the Khashoggi investigation yet because US officials, including the embassy staff, mostly focused last week on repatriating American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was accused of plotting a coup attempt against Erdogan.

Now that Brunson is back in the US, the official said Washington is expecting some information from the Turks. The US also still hasn't heard anything from the Saudis, and are waiting for some information about what happened, the official said.

Huntsville/Redstone
Cloudy
49° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 49°
Muscle Shoals
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 47°
Huntsville/Madison
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 44°
Decatur
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 47°
Fort Payne
Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 42°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 490220

Reported Deaths: 9744
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson704661342
Mobile35810721
Madison32203443
Tuscaloosa23961409
Montgomery22417489
Shelby21773211
Baldwin19635272
Lee14883147
Morgan13571248
Etowah13118312
Calhoun13090283
Marshall11212203
Houston10036257
Limestone9321133
Elmore9313179
Cullman8864177
St. Clair8771220
Lauderdale8570210
DeKalb8419173
Talladega7450162
Walker6492249
Jackson6466102
Autauga617285
Blount6072125
Colbert5978118
Coffee5229100
Dale4614106
Russell401431
Franklin397675
Covington3948105
Chilton383196
Escambia376670
Tallapoosa3559139
Clarke342749
Dallas3396140
Chambers3393103
Pike292771
Lawrence281284
Marion280793
Winston245665
Bibb243759
Marengo238554
Geneva238468
Pickens223554
Barbour209550
Hale208464
Fayette199356
Butler195165
Henry182341
Cherokee176338
Monroe165638
Randolph162740
Washington156233
Crenshaw143353
Clay143254
Macon140543
Cleburne136539
Lamar131632
Lowndes130148
Wilcox120825
Bullock116534
Conecuh106523
Perry105327
Sumter98231
Coosa86823
Greene86732
Choctaw54723
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768946

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby866001472
Davidson80790841
Knox45241571
Hamilton39979454
Rutherford37906375
Williamson25011202
Sumner21166312
Montgomery17207207
Out of TN1667091
Wilson16194209
Unassigned15662125
Sullivan14169273
Blount13929178
Bradley12734138
Washington12671231
Maury12141159
Sevier11889161
Putnam10537168
Madison10049226
Robertson8886118
Hamblen7958161
Anderson7893155
Greene7258144
Tipton6896101
Coffee6264114
Gibson6168140
Dickson6148103
Cumberland6072117
Carter5926152
McMinn586289
Roane581795
Bedford5756117
Loudon563164
Jefferson5580116
Lawrence554681
Warren529875
Monroe526389
Dyer5222101
Hawkins518793
Franklin470684
Fayette463771
Obion435794
Rhea411773
Lincoln410561
Cocke396192
Marshall388354
Cheatham385743
Campbell378158
Weakley377559
Giles371095
Henderson361173
Carroll346881
Hardeman337663
Macon335073
White333965
Hardin329762
Lauderdale309342
Henry298975
Marion290244
Wayne286430
Scott285042
Overton283757
Claiborne273666
McNairy265051
Haywood264359
Hickman262840
DeKalb261548
Smith253336
Grainger240746
Trousdale237922
Morgan228537
Fentress228344
Johnson215038
Chester200647
Bledsoe198210
Crockett196946
Unicoi179347
Cannon173628
Polk173621
Union168930
Lake167326
Grundy166330
Sequatchie153927
Decatur153137
Humphreys151321
Benton149939
Lewis145724
Meigs125421
Jackson124834
Stewart123124
Clay106230
Perry102527
Houston102330
Moore93616
Van Buren79120
Pickett74723
Hancock49312

Community Events