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Trump Thinks Khashoggi May Have Been Killed by ‘Rogue Agents’

President dispatches Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi Arabian officials to reinforce importance of U.S. concern

President Donald Trump said he’s sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi Arabia King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Monday amid controversy of a missing Washington Post journalist.

“Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened ‘to our Saudi Arabian citizen.'” Trump said in a tweet. “He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!”

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian who is a U.S. resident and columnist for The Washington Post, was allegedly killed by Saudi Arabian agents after going missing in October 2018.

Trump also said he believes it’s possible Khashoggi was murdered by “rogue agents.”

He was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish police sources have alleged that he was murdered and dismembered inside the consulate. The Saudi government claims that Khashoggi left the consulate alive.

Pompeo called on Saudi Arabia to support a thorough and transparent investigation into the disappearance, in a statement October 8 provided to The Washington Post. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have all demanded more information on the disappearance as well, reports Politico.

“It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows? We’ll try getting to the bottom of it very soon.”

Trump was also pulled into the controversy over his business dealings with Saudi Arabia. He and key aides including son-in-law Jared Kushner have been building closer ties with the Saudi royal family, most recently with the announcement of a $110 billion military arms deal.

The president suggested on Monday that the disappearance of Khashoggi could be due to “rogue killers” instead of Saudi government agents.

“We are going to leave nothing uncovered,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “With that being said, the king firmly denied any knowledge of it … I don’t want to get into his mind, but it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows? We’ll try getting to the bottom of it very soon. His was a flat denial.”

Trump also warned that there would be a severe punishment for whoever is behind the disappearance, in an interview Sunday with “60 Minutes.” He said that he would be “very upset and angry” if Saudi Arabia ordered Khashoggi to be murdered but added that they have denied involvement.

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Connor D. Wolf covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at [email protected].