Trump: Crown prince 'denied any knowledge' of journalist's fate

Trump: Crown prince 'denied any knowledge' of journalist's fate
© Getty Images

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump says 'Failing New York Times' should be held 'fully accountable' over Russia report Trump tweets ICE will begin removing 'millions' of undocumented migrants MORE on Tuesday said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman "denied any knowledge" of the fate of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but promised to "expand" an investigation into his disappearance.

"Answers will be forthcoming shortly," the president tweeted.

Trump wrote that he spoke to Crown Prince Mohammad during a phone call that also included Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoU.S. releases new photos purporting to show Iran was behind tanker attack U.S. releases new photos purporting to show Iran was behind tanker attack Tensions with Iran reach new stage over uranium threat MORE, whom the president dispatched to Riyadh to meet with top Saudi officials.


"Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate," Trump wrote.

Trump said the crown prince reassured U.S. leaders the Saudi government "has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter." 

The comments mark the second time in two days Trump has vouched for Saudi Arabia's denials of knowledge about the fate of Khashoggi, who has not been seen since entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. 

But in an interview set to air Tuesday night on Fox Business, Trump said it would not bode well Saudi leadership if it is found they were involved. 

"It depends on if the king or the crown prince knew about it in my opinion," he said. "If they knew about it, that would be bad."

Turkish officials have said Khashoggi, a U.S.-based writer who has been critical of the Saudi government, was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. Saudi officials initially denied that claim but are now reportedly weighing whether to say Khashoggi was killed during a botched interrogation. 

After speaking with Saudi King Salman on Monday, Trump raised the possibility that "rogue killers" got to the journalist.
Pompeo met with the Saudi king, crown prince and other top diplomats in Riyadh to discuss the case of Khashoggi, who has written for The Washington Post. He is set to travel to Turkey's capital on Wednesday for talks with the country's foreign minister about the situation before returning to the U.S. 
Khashoggi's disappearance has sparked a diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia, and lawmakers have pressured Trump to punish the kingdom, which is one of the United States' closest partners in the Middle East. 
"This guy is a wrecking ball. He had this guy murdered," Graham said. "To expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused."
Trump has promised to impose “severe punishment” if it is proven that Saudis were involved in Khashoggi's apparent death, but he has all but ruled out canceling or suspending arms sales to the kingdom that he says sustain U.S. jobs.
The president earlier Tuesday denied claims he has waited to act because he has financial conflicts of interest with the Saudis, a claim he called "FAKE NEWS." 
Amid the controversy, the Trump administration on Tuesday rolled out new sanctions on Iran — a chief regional rival of the Saudis and a longtime U.S. foe.
Updated at 3:46 p.m.