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Trump urgently sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king over journalist’s disappearance

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is greeted by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on April 28, 2018. (U.S. Department of State/Released)
October 15, 2018

President Trump announced Monday that he has directed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with King Salman of Saudi Arabia “immediately.”

President Trump tweeted this morning, “Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen.’ He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer[s]. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!”

Saudi Arabia is denying any knowledge about the disappearance of a Washington Post columnist, journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi has been missing since Oct. 2, when he went into a Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to garner paperwork in order to marry his fiancée, who is from Turkey. Since then, there have been allegations that someone had him killed. Khashoggi has been a critic of Saudi Arabia after once being an insider.

“Mike Pompeo is leaving literally within an hour or so,” President Trump told reporters before departing the White House Monday morning. “We are going to leave nothing uncovered.”

President Trump added that he’s directed Pompeo to go to Turkey and other places “if necessary.”

“The King firmly denied any knowledge of it. He didn’t really know,” President Trump said of Khashoggi’s disappearance. “It sounded to me like maybe these could’ve been rogue killers. Who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon.”

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert confirmed Pompeo’s visit in a statement saying, “At the request of @POTUS Trump, @SecPompeo will travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today. The President has called for a prompt and open investigation into the disappearance of @WashingtonPost journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”

Khashoggi has been missing since Oct. 2 after he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. He is a journalist who writes a column for The Washington Post, and is a frequent critic of the Saudi royals, CNN reported. Since his disappearance, pressure has risen against Saudi Arabia to investigate and explain the incident.

Video footage confirmed Khashoggi’s entrance into the consulate on Oct. 2. Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, was waiting for him outside the consulate, but he never exited the building.

Saudi officials insist they have no information on Khashoggi’s disappearance. However, a source connected with the investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities possess “audio and visual evidence” to prove that Khashoggi was murdered within the consulate.

Further, authorities say that a group of 15 Saudis connected to the Saudi government arrived in Istanbul on the same day of Khashoggi’s disappearance, and are believed to be connected to the incident.

Turkish authorities have been conducting an investigation and demanding access to search the consulate. On Monday, they were finally granted permission to do so.

U.S. Senators have also concluded that the Saudi government is connected to his disappearance, and believe it is likely that Khashoggi was murdered in the consulate. They warned that Congress will act against Saudi Arabia.

“I believe the Trump Administration will do something,” Sen. Marco Rubio said, according to The Hill. “The President has said that. But, if he doesn’t, Congress will. That, I can tell you with 100 percent certainty.”

President Trump promised consequences for Saudi Arabia in his “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday.

“There’s something really terrible and disgusting about that, if that were the case. So we’re going to have to see,” Trump said. “We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.”