After the King of Saudi Arabia ‘firmly denied’ any knowledge of a government plot to kidnap or kill missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump suggested to reporters on Monday that ‘rogue killers’ could well have been responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance last week, when he visited the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
“I’ve asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to immediately get on a plane, go to Saudi Arabia,” the President told reporters outside the White House, as he said the ‘world is watching’ and waiting for answers.
But Mr. Trump made clear that the Saudi King made clear his government was not involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“The King firmly denied any knowledge of it,” the President said. “Maybe these could have been rogue killers – who knows?”
“We’re going to try get to the bottom of it very soon but his was a flat denial,” the President added about his phone conversation with the King.
Asked by a reporter, “Do you trust him do you believe him?” – the President simply relayed the Saudi leader’s denial.
“All I can do is report what he told me and he told me in a very firm way that they had no knowledge of it. He said it very strongly,” Mr. Trump added.
The President left open the possibility that his Secretary of State would also go to Turkey, where Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate last week.
Officials in Turkey have laid out a story where Khashoggi was killed – and then possibly dismembered – by Saudi agents, a story that the Saudi government has firmly denied.
A Saudi citizen, Khashoggi has been a critic of his government, leading some to believe he was targeted by the Saudi regime.
“He firmly denied that,” the President said of the Saudi King.