It’s been over two weeks since Jamal Khashoggi went into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and never came out, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thinks President Donald Trump should give Saudi Arabia a few more days to conduct its own investigation into what happened.
“I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so that we too have a complete understanding of the facts surrounding that,” Pompeo told reporters after meeting with Trump on Thursday, “at which point, we can make decisions about how or if the United States should respond to the incident surrounding Khashoggi.”
Peter Alexander, a national correspondent for NBC News, reported that he asked Pompeo if he believed that Khashoggi was dead.
“He heard me, made eye contact, but walked away,” Alexander tweeted.
Trump’s administration has faced mounting criticism over its response (or lack thereof) to the disappearance of Khashoggi, a permanent U.S. resident and vocal critic of the Saudi royal family in his columns for the Washington Post. Trump and Pompeo have thus far seemed content to accept the validity of an investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance by the Saudi government, even though Turkish officials believe that prominent figures in the Saudi royal court ordered Khashoggi’s murder.
Trump has repeatedly pointed to a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia as a reason his administration has not responded harshly to the dissident journalist’s apparent murder. Pompeo met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Khashoggi was beheaded and dismembered after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, according to recordings described to them by a Turkish official. Khashoggi was at the consulate obtaining documents so he could marry his fiancée, who was waiting for him outside when he disappeared.
The suspected murder has prominent government and business leaders from around the world pulling out of an upcoming Saudi-hosted investment conference dubbed Davos in the Desert, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who announced Thursday morning that he won't be attending. He joins a growing list of leaders ditching the conference in light of the ongoing saga. Also on Thursday, senior ministers from Britain, France and the Netherlands withdrew.