Trump on Missing Saudi Journalist: 'We'll Get to the Bottom of This'; White House Demands Details From MBS

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A demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman protesting outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, October 8, 2018.
A demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman protesting outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, October 8, 2018.Credit: AFP

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he has talked to officials in Saudi Arabia at the highest levels about the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and wants the United States to get to the bottom of the matter. 

Khashoggi disappeared a week ago and was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where he went to pick up a document he needed for his planned marriage. Turkish sources have said they believe Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, was killed inside the mission. 

"This is a bad situation," Trump told reporters, adding that he would like to invite Khashoggi's fiancee to the White House. 

>> Trump’s Saudi policy lets MBS think he can get away with murder, ex-U.S. officials say

In a statement, Sarah Sanders said: "White House National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton and White House Senior Advisor, Jared Kushner spoke to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman yesterday about the missing Washington Post journalist. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow up call with the Crown Prince to reiterate the United States request for information. In both calls they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as available.” 

Trump said the United States was working closely with Turkey to find out exactly what had happened and was seeking information from Saudi Arabia. 

"We're demanding everything. We want to see what's going on," Trump told reporters. "It's a very serious situation for us and for this White House." 

"I want to see what happens and we're working very closely with Turkey and I think we'll get to the bottom of it," Trump said. 

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that, according to a person familiar with the communications, which were intercepted before he vanished, U.S. intelligence knew about a Saudi plan to capture dissident and Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.

A Turkish security source had said that a group of 15 Saudi nationals, including some officials, had arrived in Istanbul in two planes and entered the consulate on the same day Khashoggi was there, and later left the country.

Turkey said on Tuesday that it would search Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul where the Saudi journalist vanished last week, and close ally Britain called on Riyadh to provide "urgent answers" over his disappearance.

According to the report, it is unclear whether the Saudis wanted to capture to interrogate or to kill him. Also it is unknown whether the U.S. warned the journalist he was a target, the source claimed.

Saudi Arabia has dismissed as baseless accusations that it killed or abducted Khashoggi, and on Tuesday Turkey's state-owned Anadolu agency said Riyadh had invited Turkish experts and other officials to visit the consulate.

Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia in 2017 saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Riyadh over the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent, and since then wrote columns for the Washington Post. 

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