FEATURED:

Trump briefed by CIA chief on Khashoggi killing

Trump briefed by CIA chief on Khashoggi killing
© Greg Nash
President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to oust Nielsen as early as this week: report California wildfire becomes deadliest in state’s history Sinema’s Senate win cheered by LGBTQ groups MORE was briefed on Thursday by CIA Director Gina Haspel on the investigation into the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the White House said.
 
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Haspel briefed Trump on her "findings and her discussions" in Turkey, where the CIA chief was on a fact-finding trip. The White House did not provide further details about the meeting.
 
While in Turkey, Haspel reportedly listened to an audio recording purporting to have captured the interrogation and killing of Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the country's consulate in Istanbul.
 
The CIA did not respond to a request for comment.
 
Trump previously said he would wait until hearing from his CIA director before rendering final judgment on who was responsible for the dissident journalist's death this month.
ADVERTISEMENT
 
The president has grown increasingly frustrated with Saudi Arabia, which he placed at the center of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, over its ever-shifting account of how Khashoggi died.
 
For more than two weeks following Khashoggi's disappearance Oct. 2, Saudi officials insisted he left the diplomatic facility and had no knowledge of what happened to him.
 
Saudi officials late last week acknowledged the journalist's death, saying he was inadvertently killed during a dispute with officials inside the consulate.
 
The kingdom's top prosecutor then announced Thursday that Khashoggi was killed in a "premeditated" murder.
 
Turkey has long said that Khashoggi, who was a contributing columnist for The Washington Post, was tortured, killed and dismembered inside the Istanbul consulate.
 
Trump on Tuesday ramped up his rhetoric against the Saudis, saying they pulled off the "worst cover-up ever" and that anyone responsible for Khashoggi's death "should be in big trouble."
 
The president is facing pressure from lawmakers and the Turkish government to forcefully punish the kingdom for the Khashoggi killing, and Haspel's briefing could sway Trump, who has sent mixed messages about how he plans to respond. 
 
The Trump administration has revoked visas for officials already identified by the Saudis as connected to the journalist's death and has said it is weighing sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act designed to punish human-rights violators. 
 
But some in Congress are calling on Trump to take direct action against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom they accuse of having ordered the operation that killed Khashoggi. 
 
The Saudis have maintained that the operation was not directed by senior leaders and have sought to pin the plot on a top intelligence official and others in the royal court.
 
Trump has repeated Crown Prince Mohammed and King Salman's claim that they had no knowledge of the operation. 
 
"I want to believe him. I really want to believe him. They’ve been a very good ally," Trump said of Crown Prince Mohamed during an interview on Tuesday with The Wall Street Journal. 
 
The president has also voiced reluctance to cancel or suspend deals to sell military equipment to the Saudis, arguing that could cost U.S. companies billions of dollars and many lost jobs. 
 
Updated: 5:39 p.m.