Turkish officials have reportedly obtained recordings proving that Saudi journalist and Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed. The Washington Post reports American officials are aware of the audio and video recordings. They purportedly show a Saudi security team killing Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Turkish officials’ claims that the Saudi government is complicit in the alleged murder at its consulate in Istanbul have raised questions about the on-going sale of U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia, which President Trump defended Thursday.
“As to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country knowing that they have four or five alternatives – two very good alternatives – that would not be acceptable to me,” Mr. Trump said.
The president said the U.S. is working with Turkey and Saudi Arabia to find out what happened to Khashoggi. Mr. Trump wants to wait for more details in the investigation before deciding how to proceed, but he’s facing increasing pressure from lawmakers calling for immediate action, reports CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang.
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular, was last seen 10 days ago entering the consulate in Istanbul. Turkish media aired images of what was described as a Saudi “hit squad,” allegedly flown in to kill Khashoggi. CBS News has not independently verified that information.
A U.S. intelligence source tells CBS News there are signs that the Saudis may have planned to take Khashoggi into custody and then bring him back to Saudi Arabia.
With Saudi Arabia yet to provide any evidence to back up its claims that Khashoggi left the consulate the same day he entered it, the kingdom is starting to feel the pressure more broadly. Media companies, executives, and journalists are pulling out of a Saudi investment conference scheduled for later this month which usually draws the world’s business elite.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties say the Trump administration must hold the Saudis accountable, and some say the U.S. must stop doing business with them if there is evidence implicating the regime.
But Mr. Trump said there are other ways to handle the situation, arguing to preserve a $110 billion arms deal he signed earlier this year, to keep the money flowing into the U.S.