Trump calls Khashoggi’s death one of the ‘worst cover ups in the history of cover ups’
U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Saudi Arabia’s handling of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi was “one of the worst cover ups in the history of cover ups.”
Skepticism of the case has risen since Saturday, when Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi died in a brawl. Riyadah initially denied any knowledge of Khashoggi’s death before conceding that he was killed in a fight at the consulate.
Turkey and the United States have vowed to get to the bottom of Khashoggi’s death and punish those responsible.
While Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan has been loudly critical of Saudi Arabia over the case, which has caused international backlash, Trump recently told reporters that he wanted to get all the facts at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul before agreeing with him.
Trump also told reporters that he felt Erdogan was “pretty rough” on Saudi Arabia in his remarks in parliament on Tuesday, after the Turkish president repeatedly called the death of the former Washington Post writer a murder throughout his speech.
“The Saudi administration has taken an important step by admitting to the murder. From now on, we expect them to uncover all those responsible for this matter from top to bottom and make them face the necessary punishments,” Erdogan said.
“From the person who gave the order, to the person who carried it out, they must all be brought to account,” he said, adding that Riyadh needed to “uncover all those responsible for this matter from top to bottom.”
Erdogan also addressed the Saudis’ widely-criticized claim that Khashoggi died in a fight at the consulate, saying instead that Saudi officials had planned the killing for days.
“To blame such an incident on a handful of security and intelligence members would not satisfy us or the international community,” he said.
As details of Khashoggi’s death have come to light, Trump has repeatedly played down the involvement of Riyadah while highlighting the importance of Saudi Arabia as an ally of the United States. Earlier this week, he said he’s not satisfied with the explanations he’s heard from Saudi Arabia thus far.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also condemned the killing, pledging at an event hosted by the Washington Post that “we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
“This brutal murder of a journalist, of an innocent man, of a dissident will not go without an American response and, I expect, without an international response,” Pence said.
CIA director Gina Haspel has travelled to Turkey to join the investigation.
–With files from Reuters and the Associated Press.
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