White House, senators increase pressure over Saudi writer

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President Trump raised the possibility on Monday that missing and presumed-dead journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been murdered by "rogue killers" from Saudi Arabia, a theory he floated to reporters after a phone call with Saudi King Salman.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team that flew into and out of Turkey on October 2 killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who had written Washington Post columns critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While Turkish officials have not officially stated what they believe happened to Khashoggi, they have reportedly told the USA that they have video and audio that suggests the journalist was tortured and murdered by a team of Saudis.

Donald Trump appeared to be taking Saudi Arabia at its word Monday as he described how King Salman "firmly" and "strongly" issued a "flat denial" that he or his crown prince had any knowledge of or role in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. I mean, who knows?" Turkish sources say he was murdered there by a team of Saudi agents. "The King has ordered the public prosecutor to open an internal investigation into the Khashoggi matter based on the info from the joint team in Istanbul", said the official.

In Istanbul, meanwhile, investigators entered the consulate for their own investigation.

Saudi Arabia has offered no explanation for how the writer could have left the consulate and disappeared as his fiancee stood outside waiting for him.

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The tone differed markedly from the statement released by members of the family on October 7, in which they accused the media of politicizing his disappearance and affirmed their trust in the Saudi government to resolve the case.

In the days following his disappearance, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have demanded answers from the Saudis, an immediate halt of USA arms sales to the repressive monarchy, and total withdrawal of American support for the kingdom's vicious assault on Yemen.

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency said Pompeo was expected in Turkey on Wednesday to meet Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, after talks in Riyadh.

News outlets that have chose to not attend include the New York Times, CNN and the Financial Times. Khashoggi was a USA resident who wrote columns for the Washington Post and he was critical of the Saudi government, calling for reforms. He said the U.S. was working with Saudi Arabia and Turkey to figure out what happened.

France, Germany and Britain on Sunday have expressed concerns over the case, calling for "a credible investigation" into the incident.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to retaliate economically for any USA punitive action. "So we're going to have to see", Trump said in a "60 Minutes" interview broadcast Sunday. But it's Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who wields the real power in the country. But Khashoggi's disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative.

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