Trump to send Pompeo to meet Saudi king

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCampaigns face attack ad dilemma amid coronavirus crisis Outgoing inspector general says Trump fired him for carrying out his 'legal obligations' Trump hits Illinois governor after criticism: 'I hear him complaining all the time' MORE said Monday he's sending Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump administration eyes Afghan security forces funding for aid cut: report Trump says 40,000 Americans have been repatriated who were stranded abroad US should adopt a Marshall Plan for Ethiopia MORE to meet with King Salman of Saudi Arabia after the king denied knowing about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened 'to our Saudi Arabian citizen,' " Trump wrote in a tweet, referring to Khashoggi without using his name.

"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 added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump told reporters outside the White House a short time later that Pompeo was departing "within an hour or so," and could visit Turkey as part of his trip as well.

Trump's phone call with King Salman, 82, comes three days after the president said he intended to speak with the king "very soon" after Khashoggi's disappearance. Though Trump spoke with the king, much of the focus in Khashoggi's disappearance has been on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir apparent to the throne who holds significant power in the country.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident, first went missing two weeks ago. He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and was not seen leaving.

Turkish officials have said they have audio and video that proves Khashoggi was killed at the consulate. Senators on Sunday indicated that it's looking increasingly likely that Khashoggi was murdered there.

Saudi Arabian officials have said they do not know what happened to Khashoggi.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia formed a joint working group to investigate the matter. CNN reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia has granted investigators permission to search the consulate in Istanbul.

Trump warned in a "60 Minutes" interview broadcast Sunday that Saudi Arabia would face "severe punishment" if it's proven the country was involved in Khashoggi's disappearance, but was reluctant to alter arms deals between the U.S. and the Saudis.

Khashoggi is an American resident living in self-imposed exile from Saudi Arabia, as he has been a frequent critic of the country's leadership. On Monday and in Oval Office remarks last week, Trump has made a point to note that Khashoggi is not an American citizen.

While Trump has insisted the U.S. has yet to determine what happened to Khashoggi, lawmakers have been united in their outrage over his disappearance and vowed Saudi Arabia would face consequences in the matter. Senators invoked sanctions legislation last week to compel Trump to conduct an investigation into the issue.

Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerMcConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump's trial RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' Lindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight MORE (R-Tenn.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMomentum grows to change medical supply chain from China Confusion surrounds launch of 9B in small-business loans Trump officials report billions in small business loans on first day of program MORE (R-Fla.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally campaign to suspend TV ads, canvassing amid pandemic Coronavirus isn't the only reason Congress should spend less time in DC Trump Jr. says he inherited 'Tourette's of the thumbs' from his father MORE (R-Ariz.) have all said in recent days that Saudi officials' denials don't hold up under scrutiny, particularly their claim that the cameras at the consulate did not record video around the time Khashoggi was last seen.

"So, the only two things that could have happened is, he's alive and somehow still in there, or he's dead and the Saudis are the ones who did it," Rubio said. "There's no other explanation for it, because if there was video of him leaving, they would have shown it by now." 

"I believe the Trump administration will do something," Rubio added. "The president has said that. But, if he doesn't, Congress will. That, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty."

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTens of thousands of travelers from China arrived in US as administration debated restrictions: report Pelosi, McConnell clash over next coronavirus bill Trump eyes additional funds for small businesses impacted by pandemic MORE is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia next week for an economic summit. The White House has said Mnuchin is monitoring developments in Khashoggi's disappearance but still plans to attend.