NEW YORK, Oct 23 (APP):US President Donal Trump says he believes the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was the result of a “plot gone awry,” and that he opposes ending weapons sales to the kingdom as a result.
Trump, who made the comments during an interview with USA Today, an internationally distributed American daily, said he didn’t think the Saudis intentionally lured Khashoggi to their consulate in Istanbul in order to murder him.
Trump told the paper that there are “many other” possible forms of punishment the U.S. can bring against the kingdom as opposed to halting weapons deals.
Trump spoke to USA Today aboard Air Force One as he flew to a rally in Houston for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, in a surprisingly competitive race for re-election. Occasionally watching himself on a wall-mounted TV tuned to Fox News, according to the report, he expressed optimism about the midterm elections on Nov 6 and discussed his agenda when the new Congress takes over.
Trump said he had talked on the phone with both Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and that more details about what happened inside the Saudi Consulate in Turkey would be known within a day or two.
“He says he is not involved nor is the king,” Trump said of the Saudi crown prince. If their involvement was proven, “I would be very upset about it. We’ll have to see.”
Khashoggi, a Virginia-based columnist for The Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
The Saudi government said Friday that the dissident journalist was killed during a “brawl.”
Turkish officials have said they have evidence Khashoggi was tortured, dismembered and murdered inside the consulate.
Before boarding the plane on Monday, Trump said that he is “not satisfied” with the Saudi explanation for Khashoggi’s death after initially saying last week that he found the explanation to be credible.
He told The Washington Post in an interview over the weekend that the Saudi’s “stories are all over the place” and said “there’s been deception and there’s been lies.”