CLOSINGS: View Closings

Trump strikes dismissive tone about Saudi role re: Khashoggi

CNN's Pamela Brown reports from the White House.

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 10:54 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 11:13 AM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushed to buy time for Saudi Arabia Thursday, urging patience as they conduct an investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and leaving open the possibility the White House will do little or nothing in response.

"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" what happened to the Washington Post journalist, Pompeo told reporters at the White House after a meeting with the President.

"At which point, we can make decisions about how or if the United States should respond to the incident surrounding Mr. Khashoggi."

The top US diplomat added a caveat that he and Trump have been underscoring frequently in the last few days. "We have a long strategic relationship with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," Pompeo said. "They're an important partner. We need to be mindful of that as well."

Pompeo met with the President as the Trump administration is desperately trying to manage raging criticism from lawmakers and growing international pressure to act as evidence mounts tying the father of four's disappearance to the Saudi royal family. He entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and has not been seen since.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Thursday that after consulting with Trump and Pompeo, he would not attend a high-level investment conference in Saudi Arabia. His decision had been closely watched, as other government and business leaders have canceled in droves. No other US officials will attend in Mnuchin's place, an administration source told CNN.

The top US diplomat returned Wednesday from Riyadh, where he met with King Salman and the kingdom's de facto ruler, 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

That meeting drew scathing criticism for the warm smiling images of Pompeo with the Saudi royals and for Pompeo's declaration afterward that he didn't want to talk about "facts" and that in his meetings, the Saudis "didn't want to either."

On Thursday, Pompeo once again declined to get into the known details of Khashoggi's disappearance and alleged killing, instead saying the US will "allow the facts to unfold." To date, the top US diplomat has not referred to the possibility that Khashoggi is dead, but only that he is missing.

"There are lots of stories out there about what has happened. We're just going to allow the process to move forward, allow the facts to unfold and as they unfold. As we make a determination for ourselves about what happened there based on the facts that are presented to us, the United States will determine what the appropriate response might be," Pompeo said.

Feeling the heat

As the crisis draws attention to Trump's business ties to Saudi Arabia and the relationship between the crown prince and Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Trump and Pompeo are stressing the need for patience, for the Saudis to complete their own investigation and the importance of US ties with the kingdom.

Trump has emphasized the crown prince's "strong" denial of any knowledge about Khashoggi's disappearance on October 2, the day a Saudi hit squad allegedly arrived at the consulate. He has also insisted he is not giving "cover" to Saudi Arabia to come up with an explanation.

But the White House is beginning to show some discomfort with the rising level of anger from Republicans as well as Democrats. On the international stage, a slew of corporations and global leaders have signaled their disapproval by withdrawing from Saudi Arabia's Future Investment Initiative, dubbed "Davos in the Desert."

While Trump in particular has been strongly supportive of the Saudis and blasted their critics, the administration signaled a slight shift in its approach to the crisis Wednesday, with a source telling CNN that Pompeo's meeting with the crown prince was tougher than it appeared to be.

Behind the smiles, which dropped as soon as the photo op ended, the source said, Pompeo told the royal his future as King depends on his handling of Khashoggi's suspected murder and that he had to "own" what happened, even if he hadn't known.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe diplomatic meetings, said Pompeo also made it clear to the crown prince that the Saudis had to get their investigation done very quickly. The top US diplomat stressed that time is short and that the Saudis have to deal with the people involved sharply, the source said.

Pompeo went on to tell the prince "bluntly that if they don't, the US will have to deal with this," the source said, and "will take action because the world will demand it and that President Trump's hand will be forced by the global pressure."

The Trump administration is relying on Saudi Arabia for a slew of crucial foreign policy priorities, from funding for Syria's reconstruction and the fight against extremists there, to getting Saudi financial support for a Middle East peace plan.

Most crucially, the White House needs Saudi Arabia to keep international oil markets steady as they confront Iran and introduce new energy sanctions against countries that purchase Iranian oil starting November 4.

Damning details

But as details continue to emerge about Khashoggi's suspected murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul -- and sources float the possibility that blame will fall on a "rogue" operative -- the administration's effort to defend Saudi Arabia is creating pushback and raising questions about Trump's potential conflicts of interest.

Some lawmakers are calling for an independent international inquiry as others are asking the President to report to Congress within a month about any personal financial ties he might have to the Kingdom that might create conflicts of interest.

"According to public reports, the Trump Organization for decades has maintained business relationships with the government of Saudi Arabia and members of the Saudi royal family," a group of Democratic senators wrote the President on Wednesday.

"Your recent statements, and public reports of increased spending by the Saudi government at Trump properties, raise significant concerns about financial conflicts of interest," the lawmakers wrote.

While Trump insisted this week he has no financial interests in Saudi Arabia, he has boasted publicly about money he's made from Saudi property investors and Saudis have poured money into Trump Hotels since the President's election.

A lobbying firm for Saudi Arabia paid more than $270,000 to the Trump International Hotel in Washington between October 2016 and March 2017, and The Washington Post has reported that Trump Hotels in New York and Chicago have benefited from a rush of visitors from Saudi Arabia in recent months.

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse became the latest Republican to raise concerns about Trump's handling of the Saudi matter, telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour that "I think we're going to need an international investigation" into Khashoggi's alleged death.

"This is not a small matter that will be swept under the rug," Sasse said, adding that he hoped Trump was listening to information from his intelligence services, "not just the arguments that are coming from Saudi officials."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
Redwood94619
Chippewa8877
Cottonwood8664
Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
Lac qui Parle3773
Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
Osceola5241
Ida48913
Clarke4874
Davis4709
Taylor4653
Montgomery46311
Monroe44412
Adair4418
Monona4352
Worth3630
Fremont3583
Van Buren3585
Lucas3256
Decatur3170
Wayne3007
Audubon2962
Ringgold2112
Adams1702
Rochester
Clear
16° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 16°
Mason City
Clear
11° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 11°
Albert Lea
12° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 11°
Feels Like: 12°
Austin
Clear
12° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 12°
Charles City
Clear
12° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 12°
Feels Like: 12°
Quiet Weather This Week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events