Donald Trump provided a firm indication that he is willing to accept the Saudi Arabian government’s version of events surrounding the disappearance of the Washington Post journalist and Virginia-resident Jamal Khashoggi.
Jamal Khashoggi has been missing since last week. A strong critic of the Saudi government, his last known location was the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. Leaked reports have claimed he was murdered by Saudi agents, who then dismembered the body and removed it from the embassy in pieces to avoid detection.
First came a tweet on Trump’s official Twitter page in which the President confirmed he had spoken to the King of Saudi Arabia. Trump told his followers on Monday morning that King Salman denied any knowledge of the circumstances surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump also confirmed that he was “immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with the King.”
Following the tweet, Trump met with reporters on the White House lawn where he repeated the Saudi King’s denial of involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Trump then went one step further and speculated that “rogue killers” could have been to blame.
Trump told reporters, “it sounds to me like these could have been rogue killers”, adding that the Saudi government’s denial “could not have been stronger… It wasn’t like there was a question in his mind. The denial was very, very strong”, he said.
Donald Trump did not provide any evidence to support his speculation that rogue killers could have been behind the death.
According to the Hill, Trump has been under intense pressure from lawmakers to take action against the Saudi government following the journalist’s disappearance.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to leave for Saudi Arabia within the hour, CNBC reports.
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Oliver is a UK-born freelance writer and journalist based in Boston. He is a self-confessed politics junkie with a passion for foreign and environmental policy. His work has been featured on Open Democracy, International Policy Digest, and the London Economic. He was a regular contributor for ASEAN Today.