TRUMP: Jamal Khashoggi likely dead, based on 'intelligence coming from every side'

Oliver Contreras-Pool/Getty ImagesUS President Donald Trump
  • President Donald Trump on Thursday told reporters that it “certainly looks” as if the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead.
  • Trump stopped short of accusing the Saudis of killing Khashoggi, but he said there would be “very severe” consequences if it turns out they did.
  • Khashoggi, who was often critical of the Saudi government in his reporting, disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
  • Trump has largely stood by the Saudis over the past week or so as they have repeatedly denied involvement.

President Donald Trump on Thursday made what was perhaps his most forceful statement yet on the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

When asked whether he believes Khashoggi is dead, the president told reporters, “It certainly looks that way to me.”

Trump added that the incident “caught the imagination of the world, unfortunately,” according to a New York Times report published Thursday.

“Unless the miracle of all miracles happens, I would acknowledge that he’s dead,” Trump said to The Times. “That’s based on everything – intelligence coming from every side.”

The president also said consequences would have to be “very severe” if it turns out Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

Additionally, Trump said he would not make a statement on the case until several investigations into Khashoggi’s disappearance have concluded.

“I think we’ll be making a statement, a very strong statement,” Trump said. “But we’re waiting for the results of about – there are three different investigations, and we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon.”

Khashoggi, who most recently wrote for The Washington Post, was often critical of the Saudi government in his reporting. He disappeared after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and Turkish officials have accused the Saudis of brutally killing Khashoggi there.

The Saudis have so far denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance. But more than two weeks later, the Saudi government has still not provided any evidence that the journalist safely departed the consulate.

Trump has largely stood by the Saudis over the past week as they have issued a series of denials.

The president at one point suggested that “rogue killers” could be responsible but provided no evidence to back up that assertion.

Trump also said on Tuesday that the criticism against the Saudi Kingdom amid the Khashoggi investigation was another instance of “guilty until proven innocent.”

Meanwhile, Trump has touted the strategic alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, boasting about billions of dollars in planned arms sales to the Saudis. He said last week that it would be a “tough pill to swallow” to cease the sales over Khashoggi, contending that such a move would hurt the US economy.

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