Bolton: Russian Meddling Had No Effect on 2016 Election Outcome

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton says he told Russian officials that its meddling in the 2016 election did not affect the outcome but instead created distrust.

“The important thing is that the desire for interfering in our affairs itself arouses distrust in Russian people, in Russia. And I think it should not be tolerated. It should not be acceptable,” Bolton said Monday on Ekho Moskvy radio.

Bolton is in Moscow for talks with Russian leaders on President Donald Trump’s intention to pull the United States out of a 1987 arms control agreement.

Before joining the White House, Bolton called Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election an “act of war.”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russian election interference and allegations of collusion with the Trump campaign — allegations both Trump and Russia deny.

The U.S. has charged a number of Russian citizens and agents with election meddling.

Last week, the Justice Department charged a Russian woman with “information warfare” for managing the finances of an internet company looking to interfere in next month’s midterm elections.

The company is owned by a business executive with alleged ties to President Vladimir Putin.

The woman, Elena Khusyaynova, said Monday she is “shocked” by the charges against her. She calls herself a “simple Russian woman” who does not speak English.

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Russian Woman Mocks US Charges of Meddling in 2018 Election

A Russian woman accused by the U.S. of helping oversee a social media effort to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections mocked the accusations Monday, saying that they made her feel proud.

Justice Department prosecutors alleged Friday that Elena Khusyaynova helped manage the finances of the same social media troll farm that was indicted earlier this year by special counsel Robert Mueller. The troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, is one of a web of companies allegedly controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with reported ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Khusyaynova responded Monday in a video on the internet news site Federal News Agency, reportedly also linked to Prigozhin. She said she was bewildered by the allegations that she could have influenced the U.S. elections even though she is just a simple bookkeeper who doesn’t speak English.

Justice Department prosecutors claimed that Khusyaynova, of St. Petersburg, ran the finances for a hidden but powerful Russian social media effort aimed at spreading distrust for American political candidates and causing divisions on hot-button social issues like immigration and gun control. It marked the first federal case alleging foreign interference in the 2018 midterm elections.

“I was surprised and shocked, but then my heart filled with pride,” Khusyaynova said. “It turns out that a simple Russian woman could help citizens of a superpower elect their president. Dear people of the world! Let’s all help the American people elect such politicians who would behave in a humane way and lead our planet to peace and goodness. Let’s all wish America to become a great and peaceful country again!”

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CIA Director Travels to Turkey Over Death of Saudi Journalist

U.S. media reports say CIA director Gina Haspel is traveling to Istanbul to meet with Turkish officials who are investigating the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Sources told news outlets that Haspel departed Monday for Turkey to work on the investigation into Khashoggi’s death.

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he has “top intelligence people in Turkey,” but did not give further details. Trump said he is still not satisfied with the explanation he has heard about Khashoggi’s death, but said “we’re going to get to the bottom of it.” 

The president said he had spoken with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler — since Khashoggi’s death. He said he will know more about the death once U.S. teams investigating the killing return to Washington from Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

In another development Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met Saudi Arabia’s embattled crown prince in Riyadh. The Saudi Foreign Ministry posted a photograph of the meeting on its Twitter account.

Mnuchin canceled his plans to attend a three-day investment conference hosted by Saudi Arabia beginning Tuesday, but said he would meet the Saudi crown prince to discuss counterterrorism efforts. 

New surveillance video released Monday from Istanbul appears to show a Saudi agent wearing Khashoggi’s clothing and leaving Riyadh’s consulate on Oct. 2, an apparent attempt to cover up his killing by showing he had left the diplomatic outpost alive.

The video was taken by Turkish law enforcement and shown Monday on CNN, suggesting Saudi agents used a body double in an effort to conceal the killing. 

The video surfaced as Saudi officials offered yet another explanation for the death of the 59-year-old Saudi journalist who had been living in the U.S. in self-imposed exile while he wrote columns for The Washington Post that were critical of the Saudi crown prince and Riyadh’s involvement in the conflict in Yemen. 

The Saudis at first said Khashoggi had left the consulate and that they did not know his whereabouts. Later, they said he died in a fistfight after an argument inside the consulate. Now, the Saudis are saying Khashoggi died in a chokehold to prevent him from leaving the consulate to call for help. 

It is not known what happened to Khashoggi’s remains, although Turkish officials say he was tortured, decapitated and then dismembered. One Saudi official told ABC News that Khashoggi’s body was given to a “local cooperator” in Istanbul for disposal, but Saudi officials have said they do not know what happened to his remains.

In Washington, White House adviser Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, told CNN the U.S. is still in a “fact-finding” phase in trying to determine exactly what happened to Khashoggi. 

“We’re getting facts in from multiple places,” Kushner said. He said that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will then decide how to respond to Saudi Arabia, a long-time American ally.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing to reveal details about the case in a Tuesday speech to his parliament.

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Famed Norwegian Resistance Fighter of WWII Joachim Ronneberg Dies at 99

Norwegian resistance fighter Joachim Ronneberg, whose bravery helped keep Nazi Germany from building nuclear weapons, has died at 99.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg called him one of the country’s heroes and possibly the last of the World War II resistance fighters.

Ronneberg fled Norway when the Nazis invaded in 1940. He trained with the Norwegian resistance in Britain and returned behind enemy lines.

Ronneberg led Operation Gunnerside — the 1943 secret mission that blew up a German plant producing heavy water, a necessary component in early nuclear research.

The Nazis were working on building nuclear weapons and may have developed a bomb to use on New York or London if the plant had not been destroyed and Hitler defeated in 1945.

Ronneberg’s story was dramatized in the 1965 film The Heroes of Telemark.

Ronneberg later became a journalist and rarely talked about his wartime experiences except to warn younger generations of the dangers of totalitarian governments.

 

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AP Analysis: Saudi Prince Likely to Survive Worst Crisis Yet

The killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul is unlikely to halt Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s rise to power, but could cause irreparable harm to relations with Western governments and businesses, potentially endangering his ambitious reform plans.

International outrage over Khashoggi’s Oct. 2 slaying at the hands of Saudi officials, under still-disputed circumstances, has marked the greatest crisis in the 33-year-old’s rapid rise, already tarnished by a catastrophic war in Yemen and a sweeping roundup of Saudi businessmen and activists.

The prince had hoped to galvanize world support for his efforts to revamp the country’s oil-dependent economy, but now the monarchy faces possible sanctions over the killing. Saudi Arabia has threatened to retaliate against any punitive action, but analysts say that wielding its main weapon — oil production — could backfire, putting the prince’s economic goals even further out of reach.

“The issue now is how Western governments coordinate a response and to what extent they wish to escalate this in a coordinated fashion,” said Michael Stephens, a senior research fellow who focuses on the Mideast at London’s Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies.

“Would financial sanctions be considered sufficient as to have sent a message to Saudi Arabia that this will never happen again?” Stephens added. “Some may feel this is inadequate, while others, like the Americans, may feel this is going too far.”

Senior aides close to the prince have been fired over Khashoggi’s killing, and 18 suspects have been arrested. But the prince himself, protected by his 82-year-old father, King Salman, has been tapped to lead a panel to reform the kingdom’s intelligence services, a sign he will remain next in line to the throne.

The king has the authority to change the line of succession — as he did when he appointed his son crown prince in the first place, upending the previous royal consensus.

But any direct challenge to Prince Mohammed’s succession “may be destabilizing for the kingdom as a whole,” said Cinzia Bianco, a London-based analyst for Gulf State Analytics. “Being young and being so close to his father, there is a chance that his behavior can be constrained with the influence of his father and other actors around the world,” Bianco said.

That only holds as long as King Salman remains in power. If Prince Mohammed ascends the throne, he could be in power for decades, longer than any other royal since the country’s founding in 1932, including its first monarch, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

The firing and arrests announced by the kingdom appear to be at least an acknowledgement by the royal family of how serious the crisis has become.

“While it might be too early to evaluate the reaction of the international community, these moves might be read as a serious initial signal that the Saudi leadership is course correcting,” wrote Ayham Kamel, the head of Mideast and North Africa research at the Eurasia Group.

“Despite speculation that the crisis spells the end of Mohammad bin Salman, the recent announcements prove that the king still believes that the current line of succession is suitable.”

The Saudis’ greatest concern is the United States, a crucial military ally against archrival Iran and a key source of the kind of foreign investment they will need to reform the economy. A strong American response could encourage other Western countries to follow suit, further amplifying the crisis.

President Donald Trump has thus far sent mixed signals, vowing “severe punishment” over the death of the Washington Post columnist but saying he doesn’t want to imperil American arms sales to the kingdom.

Trump chose Saudi Arabia as his first overseas trip as president, and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner has developed close ties with Prince Mohammed, apparently seeing him as an ally in advancing his yet-to-be-released peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians.

But even if the Saudis keep Trump on their side, they could face a reckoning from the U.S. Congress, where Republicans and Democrats alike have expressed outrage over the killing. Some have suggested using the 2016 Global Magnitsky Act, which makes it possible to impose entry bans and targeted sanctions on individuals for committing human rights violations or acts of significant corruption.

Saudi Arabia last week threatened “greater action” if faced with sanctions. While no official has explained what that would entail, the general manager of a Saudi-owned satellite news channel suggested it could include weaponizing the kingdom’s oil production.

Forty-five years ago, Saudi Arabia joined other OPEC nations in an oil embargo over the 1973 Mideast war in retaliation for American military support for Israel. Gas prices soared, straining the U.S. economy.

But it’s unclear whether such a move would work in today’s economy. Saudi Arabia has been trying to claw back global market share, especially as Iran faces new U.S. oil sanctions beginning in November. Slashing oil exports would drain revenues needed for Prince Mohammed’s plans to diversify the economy, while a spike in oil prices could revive the U.S. shale industry and lead other countries to boost production.

“The Saudis have been very helpful by accelerating oil production, especially as sanctions on Iran ramp up,” said Kristin Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “It would be very foolish of Saudi Arabia to forfeit the trust of the oil market earned over decades by injecting politics into their oil policy.”

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Young Catholics Urge Vatican to Issue Inclusive LGBT Message

Catholic bishops are entering their final week of debate over hot-button issues facing young Catholics, including how the church should welcome gays and respond to the clerical sex abuse scandal that has discredited many in the church hierarchy.

 

The monthlong synod of bishops ends next Saturday with the adoption by the 260-plus cardinals, bishops and priests of a final document and approval of a separate, shorter letter to the world’s Catholic youth.

 

Some of the youth delegates to the meeting have insisted that the final document express an inclusive message to make LGBT Catholics feel welcome in a church that has often shunned them.

 

The Vatican took a step in that direction by making a reference to “LGBT” for the first time in its preparatory document heading into the meeting.

 

But some bishops have balked at the notion, including Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who insisted in his speech that “there is no such thing as an ‘LGBTQ Catholic’ or a ‘transgender Catholic’ or a ‘heterosexual Catholic,’ as if our sexual appetites defined who we are.”

 

But other bishops have expressed a willingness to use the language, though it remains to be seen if the final document or the letter will. Each paragraph will be voted on one by one and must obtain a two-thirds majority.

 

“The youth are talking about it freely and in the language they use, and they are encouraging us ‘Call us, address us this because this is who we are,”’ Papua New Guinea Cardinal John Ribat told a press conference Saturday.

 

One of those young people, Yadira Vieyra, who works with migrant families in Chicago, said gays often feel attacked and shunned by the church.

“We know that’s not true, any Catholic knows that’s not true,” she said. But she added bishops need to communicate that “the church is here for them.”

 

Catholic church teaching holds that gays should be loved and respected but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.”

 

The Oct. 3-28 synod has unfolded against the backdrop of the clergy sex abuse scandal exploding anew in the U.S., Germany, Poland and other nations. Some conservatives have charged that a gay subculture in the priesthood is to blame, even though studies have shown that gays are not more likely than heterosexuals to abuse.

 

Many of the young delegates have insisted that the final document address the abuse scandal straight on, and Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli hinted that it would.

 

“One of the key things that will be important going forward is not just that there might be a word of apology, of recognition and of aiming for better practices, but that there is action associated with that,” he said.

 

Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich said young people are also demanding accountability and transparency from the church’s leadership, which has been excoriated for having covered-up the abuses of predator priests for decades.

 

He repeated his call, first made in an interview last week with National Catholic Reporter, for bishops to cede their own authority and allow an external process involving lay experts to investigate them when an accusation against them has been made.

 

“Lay people want us to succeed. People want us to get this right,” Cupich said. “Yes, there’s a lot of anger out there. But beneath that anger there’s a sadness. There’s a sadness that the church is better than this, and that we should get this right.”

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Most British Firms Will Trigger Brexit Plans ‘by Christmas’

The vast majority of British firms are poised to implement their Brexit contingency plans by Christmas if there isn’t greater clarity over the country’s exit from the European Union, a leading business lobby group warned Sunday.

The Confederation of British Industry said these could include cutting jobs, adjusting supply chains outside the U.K., stockpiling goods, and relocating production and services overseas.

Fear of no deal

The warning comes amid growing fears that Britain may crash out of the EU in March without a deal on the future relationship. That could see tariffs placed on British exports, border checks reinstalled, and restrictions imposed travelers and workers — a potentially toxic combination for businesses.

“The situation is now urgent,” said Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director general. “The speed of negotiations is being outpaced by the reality firms are facing on the ground.”

Discussions between the two sides have hit an impasse largely over how to maintain an open border between EU member Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.

Christmas deadline

A summit of EU leaders last week failed to yield a breakthrough and another gathering in November was canceled. December is now the next scheduled summit, leaving the Brexit process tight ahead of Britain’s official departure date. Even if a deal is forged, there are doubts over British Prime Minister Theresa May’s ability to secure the necessary majority in Parliament given bitter divisions on the topic.

“Unless a Withdrawal Agreement is locked down by December, firms will press the button on their contingency plans,” Fairbairn said. “Jobs will be lost and supply chains moved.”

Fairbairn’s warning was based on a survey of 236 member firms tilted toward small- and medium-sized companies with up to 500 employees, undertaken from Sept. 19 to Oct. 8. The survey found that 82 percent of firms will have started to implement contingency plans by December if the Brexit process isn’t any clearer.

Negative impact

The CBI also said that 80 percent of firms say Brexit has already had a negative impact on their investment decisions, more than double the 36 percent recorded a year ago. The survey found that 66 percent of businesses said Brexit has had an impact on the attractiveness of the U.K. as a place to invest, while 24 percent said there had been no impact.

Some big companies are becoming increasingly vexed by the impasse in the Brexit talks. Last week, ahead of the summit in Brussels, pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca and carmaker Ford issued statements raising doubts about their investments in Britain.

“Uncertainty is draining investment from the U.K.,” said Fairbairn. 

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Saudi Official: Chokehold Killed Journalist; Body Carried Out in Rug

As Saudi Arabia faced intensifying international skepticism over its story about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a senior government official laid out a new version of the death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul that in key respects contradicts previous explanations.

The latest account, provided by a Saudi official who requested anonymity, includes details on how the team of 15 Saudi nationals sent to confront Khashoggi on Oct. 2 had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped and then killed him in a chokehold when he resisted. A member of the team then dressed in Khashoggi’s clothes to make it appear as if he had left the consulate.

After denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khashoggi, 59, for two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning said he had died in a fistfight at the consulate. An hour later, another Saudi official attributed the death to a chokehold, which the senior official reiterated.

Turkish officials suspect the body of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was dismembered, but the Saudi official said it was rolled up in a rug and given to a “local cooperator” for disposal. Asked about allegations that Khashoggi had been tortured and beheaded, he said preliminary results of the investigation did not suggest that.

The Saudi official presented what he said were Saudi internal intelligence documents that appeared to show the initiative to bring back dissidents as well as the specific one involving Khashoggi. He also showed testimony from those involved in what he described as the 15-man team’s cover-up, and the initial results of an internal probe. He did not provide proof to substantiate the findings of the investigation and the other evidence.

​Changing narratives

This narrative is the latest Saudi account that has changed multiple times. The authorities initially dismissed reports that Khashoggi had gone missing inside the consulate as false and said he had left the building soon after entering. When the media reported a few days later that he had been killed there, they called the accusations “baseless.”

Asked by Reuters why the government’s version of Khashoggi’s death kept changing, the official said the government initial account was based on “false information reported internally at the time.”

“Once it became clear these initial mission reports were false, it launched an internal investigation and refrained from further public comment,” the official said, adding that the investigation is continuing.

Turkish sources say the authorities have an audio recording purportedly documenting Khashoggi’s murder inside the consulate but have not released it.

Riyadh dispatched a high-level delegation to Istanbul on Tuesday and ordered an internal investigation, but U.S. President Donald Trump said n Saturday he is not satisfied with Saudi Arabia’s handling of Khashoggi’s death and said questions remain unanswered. Germany and France on Saturday called Saudi Arabia’s explanation of how Khashoggi died incomplete.

​Latest version of events

According to the latest version of the death, the government wanted to convince Khashoggi, who moved to Washington a year ago fearing reprisals for his views, to return to the kingdom as part of a campaign to prevent Saudi dissidents from being recruited by the country’s enemies, the official said.

To that end, the official said, the deputy head of the General Intelligence Presidency, Ahmed al-Asiri, put together a 15-member team from the intelligence and security forces to go to Istanbul, meet Khashoggi at the consulate and try to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia.

“There is a standing order to negotiate the return of dissidents peacefully; which gives them the authority to act without going back to the leadership,” the official said. “Asiri is the one who formed the team and asked for an employee who worked with (Saud) al-Qahtani and who knew Jamal from the time they both worked at the embassy in London,” he said.

The official said Qahtani had signed off on one of his employees conducting the negotiations.

​Chokehold 

According to the plan, the team could hold Khashoggi in a safe house outside Istanbul for “a period of time” but then release him if he ultimately refused to return to Saudi Arabia, the official said.

Things went wrong from the start as the team overstepped their orders and quickly employed violence, the official said.

Khashoggi was ushered into the consul general’s office where an operative named Maher Mutreb spoke to him about returning to Saudi Arabia, according to the government’s account. Khashoggi refused and told Mutreb that someone was waiting outside for him and would contact the Turkish authorities if he did not reappear within an hour, the official said.

Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, has told Reuters he had handed her his two mobile phones and left instructions that she should wait for him and call an aide to Turkey’s president if he did not reappear.

Back inside the consul’s office, according to the official’s account, Khashoggi told Mutreb he was violating diplomatic norms and said, “What are you going to do with me? Do you intend to kidnap me?”

Mutreb replied, “Yes, we will drug you and kidnap you,” in what the official said was an attempt at intimidation that violated the mission’s objective.

When Khashoggi raised his voice, the team panicked. They moved to restrain him, placing him in a chokehold and covering his mouth, according to the government’s account.

“They tried to prevent him from shouting but he died,” the official said. “The intention was not to kill him.”

Asked if the team had smothered Khashoggi, the official said: “If you put someone of Jamal’s age in this position, he would probably die.”

Where is his body?

To cover up their misdeed, the team rolled up Khashoggi’s body in a rug, took it out in a consular vehicle and handed it over to a “local cooperator” for disposal, the official said.

Forensic expert Salah Tubaigy tried to remove any trace of the incident, the official said.

Turkish officials have told Reuters that Khashoggi’s killers may have dumped his remains in Belgrad Forest adjacent to Istanbul, and at a rural location near the city of Yalova, 90 kilometers (55 miles) south of Istanbul.

Turkish investigators are likely to find out what happened to the body “before long,” a senior official said.

The Saudi official said the local cooperator is an Istanbul resident but would not reveal his nationality. The official said investigators were trying to determine where the body ended up.

Meanwhile, operative Mustafa Madani donned Khashoggi’s clothes, eyeglasses and Apple watch and left through the back door of the consulate in an attempt to make it look as if Khashoggi had walked out of the building. Madani went to the Sultanahmet district where he disposed of the belongings.

The official said the team then wrote a false report for superiors saying they had allowed Khashoggi to leave once he warned that Turkish authorities could get involved and that they had promptly left the country before they could be discovered.

​Many questions

Skeptics have asked why so many people, including military officers and a forensics expert specializing in autopsies, were part of the operation if the objective was to persuade Khashoggi to return home of his own volition.

The disappearance of Khashoggi, a Saudi insider turned critic, has snowballed into a massive crisis for the kingdom, forcing the 82-year-old monarch, King Salman, to personally get involved. 

It has threatened the kingdom’s business relationships, with several senior executives and government officials shunning an investor conference in Riyadh scheduled for next week and some U.S. lawmakers putting pressure on Trump to impose sanctions and stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

The official said all 15 team members had been detained and placed under investigation, along with three other local suspects.

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Rights Group Calls on Saudis to Produce Khashoggi’s Body

Rights group Amnesty International has called on Saudi Arabia to “immediately produce” the body of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi so an autopsy can be completed.

Khashoggi reportedly was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Saudi Arabia says preliminary results from its investigation show he died after a fight with people he met in the consulate.

Amnesty’s director of campaigns for the Middle East, Samah Hadid, said the Saudi version of events cannot be trusted. He said a United Nations investigation would be necessary to avoid a “Saudi whitewash” of the circumstances surrounding Khashoggi’s death.

Hadid said such a cover-up may have been undertaken to preserve Saudi Arabia’s international business ties.

Earlier Saturday, a statement from the Saudi public prosecutor carried by Saudi state TV said 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested so far in connection with Khashoggi’s death. The statement said royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Assiri have been fired from their positions.

The prosecutor said the investigation into Khashoggi’s death remains underway.

The state-run news agency also said King Salman has also ordered the formation of a ministerial committee headed by the crown prince to restructure the kingdom’s intelligence services.

 

Saturday’s comments are the first admission by the Saudi government that Khashoggi died.

Turkish officials had said they believed he was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after he entered the building on October 2 to retrieve paperwork for his upcoming wedding. Saudi Arabia had previously denied the allegations and said Khashoggi had left the building shortly after.

The White House said in a statement it “acknowledges the announcement from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that its investigation into the fate of Jamal Khashoggi is progressing and that it has taken action against the suspects it has identified thus far.”

When asked about the Saudi announcement, President Donald Trump told reporters in Arizona “It’s a big first step.” However, he said, “We do have some questions” for the Saudis, and added “we’ll be working with Congress.”

 

He said that he wants to talk to the Saudi crown prince before the next steps are taken.

When asked whether the Saudis can produce a credible report about the killing of Khashoggi, Trump said, “We’re involved. Turkey is involved. … This has been a horrible event. It has not gone unnoticed.”

Before the Saudi announcement, Trump told reporters Friday he might consider sanctions against Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of Khashoggi.

Earlier Friday, Turkish police said they questioned employees of the Saudi consulate in their ongoing investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance. More than a dozen Turkish employees of the Saudi consulate were interviewed, including the consul general’s driver, technicians, accountants and telephone operators, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the Khashoggi’s disappearance during an interview Friday with VOA contributor Greta Van Susteren.

Trump has warned there would be “very severe” consequences if Saudi Arabia is behind the disappearance of the journalist, but Pompeo said, “I’m not going to get into what those responses might be. We’ll certainly consider a wide range of potential responses, but I think the important thing to do is that the facts come out.”

Pompeo, who traveled to Riyadh earlier this week to speak to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, told VOA, “I made very clear to them that the United States takes this matter very seriously. That we don’t approve of extrajudicial killings. That we don’t approve of that kind of activity. That it’s not something consistent with American values, and that it is their responsibility as this incident happened in the consulate.”

“It’s their responsibility to get to the bottom of this, to put the facts out clearly, accurately, completely, transparently, in a way that the whole world can see,” Pompeo said. “And once we’ve identified the fact set, then they have the responsibility and the first instance to hold accountable those inside the country that may have been involved in any wrongdoing.”

Turkish authorities also denied Friday they have shared with U.S. officials an audio recording of the torture and killing of Khashoggi.

Media reports said Pompeo heard the recording earlier in the week when he visited Turkey. But Pompeo, traveling in Mexico, told reporters, “I’ve seen no tape … I’ve heard no tape. I’ve seen no transcript.”

 

According to Anadolu, Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, “It is out of the question for us to share this or that information with any country.”

Late Friday, some U.S. lawmakers weighed in on the Saudi announcement about Khashoggi’s fate.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, tweeted, “To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement.”

Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the U.S. should pursue sanctions against those Saudis involved in the journalist’s death under the Sergei Magnitsky, which is named after the anti-corruption Russian accountant who died in police custody.

“The Global Magnitsky Act doesn’t have exceptions for accidents. Even if Khashoggi died because of an altercation, that’s no excuse for his murder,” Menendez tweeted on Friday. “This is far from the end and we need to keep up the international pressure.”  

 

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