In a manner that echoed his response to Vladimir Putin’s denial of Russian election interference, President Donald Trump told reporters Monday that the king of Saudi Arabia “firmly denied” having any knowledge regarding the fate of Saudi journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
> “I just spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia, who denies any knowledge of what took place, with regard to, what he said, was his Saudi Arabian citizen,” Trump said, according to pool video outside the White House. Trump added that he is sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to investigate. “I don’t want to get into [the king’s] mind,” Trump added, “but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?”
Trump’s remarks are the latest in a string of public comments in which the president has refused to cast blame in Saudi Arabia’s direction regarding the missing journalist, whom the Turkish government claims was killed by a team of Saudi agents.
Trump previously attempted to downplay the situation — emphasizing that the alleged incident took place outside the U.S., as well as Khashoggi's status as a permanent U.S. resident rather than citizen — but also said Saudi Arabia would encounter “severe punishment” if it is found responsible for the journalist’s death.