U.S. seeks info on Saudi writer
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and members of Congress demanded answers Wednesday from Saudi Arabia about the fate of a prominent Saudi writer and government critic who disappeared a week ago after entering his country’s consulate in Istanbul.
Trump said he didn’t know what happened to Jamal Khashoggi and expressed hope that the 59-year-old writer was still alive, but senior members of Congress said they were starting to fear the worst.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who has reviewed intelligence reports on the disappearance as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that “the likelihood is he was killed on the day he walked into the consulate” and that “there was Saudi involvement” in whatever happened with Khashoggi, who wrote columns for The Washington Post.
“The Saudis have a lot of explaining to do because all indications are that they have been involved at minimum with his disappearance,” Corker told The Associated Press. “Everything points to them.”
Khashoggi, a wealthy former government insider who had been living in the U.S. in self-imposed exile, had gone to the consulate Oct. 2 to get paperwork he needed for his upcoming marriage while his Turkish fiancee waited outside.
Turkish authorities have said he was killed by members of an elite Saudi “assassination squad,” an allegation the Saudi government has dismissed.
The Saudi government has become a closer U.S. ally under Trump, and some lawmakers warn that relations could be jeopardized if it turns out the kingdom was involved in his disappearance.
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he has a call in to Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.
Trump said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a “bad situation,” but he did not disclose details of his conversations.