Trump Suggests “Rogue Killers” May Have Been Behind Jamal Khashoggi’s Disappearance

“Who knows?”

On Monday, President Donald Trump appeared one step closer to accepting the denials of the Saudi Arabian government that it was behind the disappearance and alleged killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting that “rogue killers” may instead be responsible.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump said that during a phone conversation Monday morning, King Salman, the Saudi monarch, had repeatedly denied having any information about Khashoggi’s disappearance. “I asked and he firmly denied that,” Trump said. He continued, “The king firmly denied any knowledge of it. He didn’t really know, maybe—I don’t want to get into his mind—but it sounded to me like it could have been rogue killers, who knows?”

Trump also expressly stated that Khashoggi, who fled the kingdom for the US out of fear of political retribution, was, in fact, a Saudi Arabian citizen. Last week, the president appeared to openly question whether Khashoggi was a US citizen, implying that if he wasn’t, his disappearance was perhaps not the US’s issue.

Trump’s striking defense of the Saudi Arabian government comes as Turkish officials concluded that at the direction of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabian agents on October 2 lured Khashoogi to the the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and subsequently killed him.

Despite his apparent willingness to accept the Saudi Arabian government’s word, Trump told reporters that he was sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with the Saudi King and discuss the growing diplomatic crisis.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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