Trump a reluctant critic of Saudi Arabia despite pressure to act

Dem Rep Has 'Irresponsible' Theory: Jared Kushner Orchestrated Journalist's Death in Saudi Arabia Consulate

Congressman: Kushner May Have Given Intel to Saudis Leading to Killing of Jamal Khashoggi

Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in a "fistfight" in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, the kingdom said early on Saturday, acknowledging the writer's death for the first time.

The kingdom has said that 18 suspects are in custody following the death of the Washington Post columnist.

Khashoggi disappeared after entering the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2.

It comes as the Saudi government comes under increasing worldwide pressure over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi - a journalist who was allegedly killed after entering the country's consulate in Turkey.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally who has nonetheless been outspoken about Khashoggi, doubted the credibility of the Saudi authorities, which insisted for weeks that he left the consulate.

Trump, who said on Thursday he believes Khashoggi is likely dead and has warned of a potential "very severe" response.

Preliminary investigations by the Saudi Public Prosecution Office into Khashoggi's disappearance said he had gotten into a "quarrel and brawl" with people he met while in the consulate which led to his death, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia's highest religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, on Saturday said the king's decisions on the death of Jamal Khashoggi "achieve justice and equality in accordance with Islamic law", according to a statement on state news agency SPA.

Activists, members of the Human Rights Association Istanbul branch, holding posters with photos of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, talk to members of the media, during a protest in his support near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, October 9, 2018. It said Khashoggi's torturers cut off his fingers during an interrogation and later beheaded and dismembered him.

The announcement comes as pressure mounted on Prince Mohammed bin Salman to investigate the death of one of his most prominent Saudi critics.

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Also reacting to Riyadh's announcement, outgoing Republican Senator Bob Corker said Saudi Arabia's explanation for what happened to Khashoggi "continues to change with each passing day, so we should not assume their latest story holds water".

Initially the king, who has handed the day-to-day running of Saudi Arabia to his son, commonly known as MbS, was unaware of the extent of the crisis, according to two of the sources with knowledge of the Saudi royal court.

The results of the investigation could potentially ease strains the case has created between the kingdom and the United States.

The journalist's disappearance has sparked global outrage and threatened the US-Saudi relationship.

However, others have expressed scepticism about Saudi Arabia's claims, including some from Mr Trump's own party.

Mr Schiff said that if Mr Khashoggi was fighting inside the consulate, he was "fighting for his life with people sent to capture or kill him".

His Turkish fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, tweeted in Arabic: "The heart grieves, the eye tears, and with your separation we are saddened, my dear Jamal".

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the administration or the Saudi government.

The kingdom at the same time announced the firing of four top intelligence officials, including Maj Gen Ahmed bin Hassan Assiri, a one-time spokesman for the Saudi military's campaign in Yemen who later became a confidant of Prince Mohammed.

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