President Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. has requested audio and video recordings that reportedly show the horrific death of Saudi Arabian Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
“We’ve asked for it, if it exists,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “We will probably know that by the end of the week,” he said.
Pro-government Turkish media released what are claimed to be descriptions of the audio recordings on Wednesday, just as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Turkey to discuss the incident with Turkish officials.
Khashoggi is caught on tape being interrogated as his fingers are cut off before he is dismembered and beheaded, according to the Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, which reports Saudi Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi telling the killers, “Do this outside; you’re going to get me in trouble.”
Khashoggi, a former adviser to Saudi intelligence who became an outspoken critic of the country’s regime and was living in the U.S. before his disappearance, entered the consulate in Turkey on October 2 to finalize divorce paperwork so he could marry his fiancée, but was never seen exiting as has been missing since.
The Saudi Arabian government has denied accusations that they murdered Khashoggi, claiming he left the consulate through a back door. They stood by those denials Tuesday when Pompeo met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to discuss the situation.
“They made a commitment to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official,” Pompeo said after the meeting.
Trump declined to say whether he had directed the FBI to open an investigation into the incident, saying Khashoggi “wasn’t a citizen of our country.”
“Maybe we have,” he said of launching an investigation. “Why should I tell you?”
The president previously said he would not suspend multi-billion-dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia over the incident, but warned the country of “severe punishment” if it is discovered that the government had Khashoggi murdered.