<pSaudi Arabia's young crown prince is again denying any involvement in the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, according to President Donald Trump, who tweeted that he spoke with him and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tuesday after dispatching the top U.S. diplomat to the region amid international outrage over Khashoggi's possible death.
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Add Jamal Khashoggi as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Jamal Khashoggi news, video, and analysis from ABC News.Jamal KhashoggiAdd Interest<p"Answers will be forthcoming shortly," Trump added.
<pIn photo-ops with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Pompeo greeted them warmly, even as the Saudis weigh whether to accept culpability for Khashoggi's death, a source with knowledge of their discussions told ABC News.
<pIt was unclear what explanation they would give or when that statement would come, but Turkey<pBut Trump seemed to have an answer he approved, tweeting that with Pompeo joining him on the phone, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman "totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate… He has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter."
…during the call, and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018
<pOn Monday, he said "rogue killers" could be responsible, even though there has been no confirmation yet that Khashoggi is dead.
<pPompeo will head to Turkey's capital Ankara on Wednesday to discuss Khashoggi's case with Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu.
<pIn his first meeting Tuesday with King Salman, Pompeo had words of thanks, Nauert said, for Saudi's "strong partnership" and "his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent, and timely investigation." The importance of that investigation was something Pompeo and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also agreed on, Nauert said.
<pBut it's the crown prince or "MBS," as he is sometimes known, that members of Congress and other U.S. officials worry ordered the plot against Khashoggi.
<pPainted as a bright, young reformer who has opened up Saudi Arabia to movie theaters, sporting events, and women driving, the crown prince has also overseen a crackdown on political opposition, including by arresting several wealthy Saudi princes, and activists, including women's rights advocates.
<pMedia reporting of his alleged involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance and possible death has strengthened that darker image of a ruthless young leader.
<p"I'm not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy's in charge," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a staunch supporter of U.S.-Saudi relations and close ally of Trump's. "This guy is a wrecking ball. He had this guy murdered in a consulate in Turkey, and to expect me to ignore it – I feel used and abused."
<p"I'm going to sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia. You know, we deal with bad people all the time, but this is in our face. I feel personally offended. They have nothing but contempt for us," Graham told Fox News Tuesday, adding the crown prince "has got to go."
<pThat kind of language was once unheard of from a high-level Republican official, especially one as senior in foreign policy circles.
<pThe tone from Pompeo's trip was noticeably different. He smiled and shook hands with King Salman and the crown prince, with whom he joked about jetlag.
<p"We are really strong and old allies, so we face our challenges together — the past, the day of, tomorrow," MBS told Pompeo, who nodded along and responded, "Absolutely."
<pPompeo's meetings during the day all lasted around 30 minutes, but in the evening he'll have dinner with the crown prince, which is expected to be a longer affair.
<pAhead of Pompeo's visit to Ankara, the U.S. had welcomed Turkey and Saudi Arabia announcing a "joint inspection" of the consulate, and the first Turkish police officials were able to enter the compound Monday.
<pSo far the investigation has not yielded any publicly released results, but an official told ABC News on Monday that the Saudis are considering whether to claim involvement.
<pThe U.S. has declined to comment on that possibility.
<pTurkish authorities will also search the residence of the top Saudi diplomat in Istanbul, the consul general, a Foreign Ministry official told the Associated Press Tuesday.