King steps in as Saudi Arabia defends itself in Khashoggi case

King steps in as Saudi Arabia defends itself in Khashoggi case

President Donald Trump has suggested "rogue killers" may be responsible for whatever happened to missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

The impact on relations between the USA and Saudi Arabia could be far reaching, if it's found that the Saudis were involved with Khashoggi's disappearance, said Michael Morrell, former acting and deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency and a CBS national security correspondent, on CBS This Morning.

The Florida Republican continued: "With nearly full unanimity across the board, Republicans and Democrats, there will be a very strong congressional response if, in fact, Saudis lured him into that consulate, murdered him, and cut up his body and disposed of it". The president has said he doesn't want the Khashoggi matter to scuttle an arms deal with the Saudis.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Mr Trump was sending Mr Pompeo to Riyadh because "determining what happened to Jamal Khashoggi is something of great importance to the President".

Saudi Arabia has strongly denied killing Khashoggi and has denounced such assertions as "lies", saying he left the building shortly after entering.

Multiple U.S. lawmakers have said that evidence points to Saudi Arabia being complicit in his disappearance, and Turkish authorities say officials working on behalf of the Saudi government murdered Khashoggi and likely dismembered him.

Further, a team of cleaners were reported to have entered the consulate on Monday lunchtime - "causing a minor flurry of excitement", according to one reporter - hours before the search team showed up.

The Journal, like CNN, said the Saudi statement has not been finalised.

Sources told CNN that the Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge that the death of Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was the result of an interrogation that went wrong. "We'll wait and see, but rest assured that when the president says we will take actions if we find out bad outcomes, he means it".

As part of a growing global backlash against the Saudi government, some prominent business leaders and companies have said they will no longer attend a high-profile investment conference scheduled to be held in Saudi Arabia later this month. Jordan related the denial to Saudi Arabia's posture following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Prince Mohammed, 33, a son of King Salman, consolidated his control in June 2017 when he was named Crown Prince to replace his cousin, Mohammed Nayef, who was sacked.

Saudi Arabia has given Turkey permission to search its Istanbul consulate Monday afternoon, a Turkish diplomatic source told CNN.

Also on Monday, investigators entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Speaking to the media at the White House's South Lawn before departing to Florida, Trump said that he had talked for about 20 minutes with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who denied having any information about Khashoggi's case.