U.S. President Donald Trump has warned there will be “severe punishment” for Saudi Arabia if it is determined Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
In excerpts of an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes that were released Saturday, Trump said, “We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment.”
Trump said “nobody knows yet, but we’ll probably be able to find out” if Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump added the U.S. “would be very upset and angry if that were the case.”
Trump, who has frequently boasted about his business ties with the kingdom, suggested during the interview, which CBS will televise Sunday, that ending U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia would not be an option, saying, “I don’t want to hurt jobs.”
Media reports say Khashoggi may have recorded his own death on his Apple watch.
Accounts say Khashoggi turned on the sound recording capability on his device as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 where he went to get a document he needed for his upcoming marriage.
The watch is reported to have been connected to the iCloud and the cell phone that he left with his fiancee before he entered the consulate. His fiancee said she waited for Khashoggi to come out of the consulate, but he never emerged.
The reports say the watch recorded not only Khashoggi’s interrogation and torture, but also his murder.
Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident, wrote columns for The Washington Post that were critical of Saudi Arabia.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the Turkish government informed U.S. officials it was in possession of video recordings that prove Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate.
Saudi officials have denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance and said he departed the consulate shortly after entering. Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdel Aziz bin Saud bin Nayef has called the reports that the government ordered Khashoggi killed “lies and baseless allegations.”
A group of 15 Saudi men is reported to have flown into Istanbul the day that Khashoggi went to the consulate. Media reports say the men were in the consulate when Khashoggi was there. The men stayed at the consulate for a few hours and then took flights back to Saudi Arabia.
Turkish officials are working to determine the identities of all the men.
One of the members of the group, according to CNN, has been identified by Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency and the Sabah newspaper as Salah Muhammed al-Tubaiqi, who the media outlets say is listed on an official Saudi health website as the head of the forensic medicine department at the Interior Ministry.