Leading US senator accuses Saudi prince of ordering Khashoggi killing

5 Khashoggi suspects linked to crown prince NY Times

Following Trump's comments about the possibility that "rogue killers" might have been involved, several United States media outlets reported that a Saudi probe was expected to paint Khashoggi's death as a result of a botched rendition and interrogation.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is now in Saudi Arabia meeting royalty amid growing worldwide tension over the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Times cited sources as saying the Saudis were planning to say Khashoggi had been killed in an "interrogation gone wrong", done without the monarchy's knowledge.

The case has put Saudi Arabia under pressure from close allies.

Pompeo met with Saudi Arabian King Salman and the crown prince in Riyadh on Tuesday.

Under increasing global pressure, Saudi Arabia is reportedly trying to piece together an alibi over Khashoggi's disappearance.

Saudi officials have repeatedly denied any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance and say they have no information about his whereabouts.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the United States should "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia" and slammed the crown prince, known by his initials MBS, as a "toxic" figure.

But that has now been delayed because no Saudi official can be present for what has been billed as a joint investigation, Turkish officials say.

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Calling Khashoggi's disappearance a "terrible situation", he further said that the USA is working with Saudi Arabia and Turkey to figure out what happened.

President Donald Trump on Saturday said Saudi Arabia could be behind the disappearance of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi and warned Washington would inflict "severe punishment" if he was murdered. The Saudi government didn't respond to a request for comment.

Meeting King Salman, Pompeo "thanked the king for his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent and timely investigation of Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance", Nauert said. He said directly that U.S. punishment "depends [on] whether or not the king or the crown prince knew about it".

While Pompeo was in Riyadh, Trump said on Twitter that he had talked with the crown prince, the country's de facto leader, "who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish consulate".

She said under worldwide law, both a forced disappearance and an extra-judicial killing were "very serious crimes" and immunity should not be used to impede investigations into what happened and who is responsible. Al-Otaibi left Turkey on Tuesday afternoon, Turkish state media reported. He said Saudi Arabia originally pledged its contribution in August, and USA officials were expecting to receive it by the fall. "Here we go again with, you know, you're guilty until proven innocent".

Pro-government newspaper Sabah reported at the weekend that Khashoggi's Apple Watch recorded his interrogation, torture and killing, although some experts have said it is not likely that the watch could have recorded the events in the manner described.

While the meetings were going on, Trump, in Washington, said on Twitter, "For the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russian Federation, for that matter)".

Which begs the wider question: is the West's relationship with Saudi Arabia so important that it outweighs the need to condemn and punish what many believe was a state-sponsored murder of a journalist inside a consulate?

As he dispatched Pompeo to Riyadh on Monday, Trump told reporters at the White House that King Salman's denials to him about Khashoggi's fate in a phone call "could not have been stronger".

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