Turkish investigators carried out searches Thursday at the Saudi consulate and the nearby consul’s residence in Istanbul in connection with the disappearance of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Forensic teams had already visited the consulate once this week, going there Monday to search for clues to what happened to Khashoggi after he entered the diplomatic outpost on Oct. 2.
Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi monarchy who wrote for The Washington Post, has not been seen since that day.
Turkish officials have said Saudi agents killed and dismembered Khashoggi, while Saudi officials say he walked out of the consulate on his own. Neither country has publicly offered evidence of its version of events.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited leaders in both Saudi Arabia and Turkey to express concern about the case and President Donald Trump’s desire to figure out what happened.
Pompeo is scheduled to brief Trump on the trip Thursday morning at the White House.
Trump wants the evidence
Trump said Wednesday he wants audio and video intelligence from Turkey, “if it exists.”
His demand came as he expressed support for Saudi Arabia, a long-time U.S. ally, and said he expects its investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance would be completed by the end of the week.
When questioned on what he would do if the Saudi investigation showed that Saudi leaders King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were responsible, Trump told Fox Business in an earlier interview, “Well, I hope we’re going to be on the better side of the equation.
“You know we need Saudi Arabia in terms of our fight against all of the terrorism, everything that’s happening in Iran and other places,” Trump said.
When asked if the United States would distance itself from Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case, Trump said, “I do not want to do that and frankly they have a tremendous order, $110 billion,” referring to a promised Saudi purchase of U.S.-made weaponry, in the coming years.
“It is 500,000 jobs, it will be ultimately $110 billion. It’s the biggest order in the history of our country from an outside military, and I said we are going to turn that down?” he added.
“So hopefully it is working out. We’ll find out, we’ll get down to the bottom of it,” Trump said of the Saudi investigation. “I hope that the king and the crown prince didn’t know about it. That is a big factor in my eyes, and I hope they haven’t.”
Pompeo visits Saudi Arabia, Turkey
Pompeo told reporters on his way back to Washington that the United States needs “to know the facts before we can begin to formulate what the appropriate response” would be if Saudi Arabia is responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance.
“I do think it’s important that everyone ... keep in their mind that we have lots of important relationships — financial relationships between U.S. and Saudi companies, governmental relationship, things we work on together all across the world,” Pompeo said. “The efforts to reduce the risk to the United States of America from the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, Iran — the Saudis have been great partners in working alongside us on those issues.”
Earlier, Pompeo said that when he met with Saudi leaders they did not want to talk about any of the facts involving Khashoggi’s disappearance.
As he headed to Ankara to talk to the Turkish leaders about their investigation regarding the missing journalist, Pompeo that the Saudi monarch and his son assured him they “would show the entire world” the results of their investigation.
Pompeo said the Saudis had committed to holding accountable “anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found,” making no exceptions for anyone, including members of the royal family.
Ken Bredemeier, Chris Hannas and State Department correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report.