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Trump to send Pompeo to meet Saudi king

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE said Monday he's sending Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo says Mideast strategy will be Trump administration policy 'until our time is complete' Trump administration pulls out of Open Skies treaty with Russia Tibetan political leader makes visit to White House for first time in six decades 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.

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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 CorkerGOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics Former GOP senator: Republicans cannot let Trump's 'reckless' post-election claims stand Cornyn: Relationships with Trump like 'women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse' MORE (R-Tenn.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics MORE (R-Fla.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare front and center; transition standoff continues 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 MnuchinOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans 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.