BREAKING NEWS Finally Feeling Like Fall Full Story

Trump allies smearing Khashoggi

With President Trump under fire over his muted response to the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, conservative supporters are roaring to Trump's rescue. CNN's Tom Foreman reports.

Posted: Oct 21, 2018 2:30 PM
Updated: Oct 21, 2018 2:54 PM

An increasingly vocal chorus of international voices is questioning the Saudi version of events that led to the death of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country's consulate in Istanbul almost three weeks ago.

Statements from the UN, the EU and a number of western governments have criticized Riyadh's handling of the case, which has gone from blanket denials of any involvement to an admission Saturday morning that the journalist was, in fact, killed while visiting the Saudi diplomatic compound in the Turkish city.

The official Saudi line is that Khashoggi died accidentally after a confrontation in the consulate descended into a brawl.

A source with close connections to the Saudi Royal Palace told CNN that Saudis concluded that Khashoggi's cause of death was a chokehold or strangulation, but officials provided no evidence to support the conclusion.

The altercation involved multiple Saudi officials at the country's consulate in Istanbul, according to the statement. It said the suspects later tried to cover up the incident.

Turkish officials say 15 Saudis traveled to Istanbul on the day of Khashoggi's disappearance. They say privately that he was dismembered at the consulate, and Saudi authorities have failed to produce his body or say where they believe it to be.

A source close to the Saudi Royal Palace told CNN that the location of Khashoggi's body is not known to the Saudis. The source said the body was handed over to a local "collaborator" after the killing, adding that it is not at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. CNN cannot verify the assertion.

'Give us Jamal'

Speaking to reporters outside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul on Saturday, Turan Kislakci, the head of the Turkish-Arab Media Association and a friend of Khashoggi, called on Saudi Arabia to hand over the journalist's body.

"Give us Jamal, so we can have a funeral for him. So that all people who care about him, world leaders, can come here to Istanbul for the funeral," he said.

Khashoggi's fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, reacted to the news of his death on Twitter on Saturday evening.

She tweeted footage of Khashoggi speaking and being filmed when a cat unexpectedly jumps into his lap. He looks down and smiles. Khashoggi and the film crew laugh.

"They took your bodily presence from my world," Cengiz wrote. "But your beautiful laugh will remain in my soul forever."

Explanations 'lack credibility'

While the administration of US President Donald Trump continues to give the Saudi explanation at least some benefit of the doubt, some of the US' longest-standing allies have been sharply critical of the Kingdom's version of events.

Canada released a brief statement, calling Riyadh's statement into question.

"The explanations offered to date lack consistency and credibility," Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said in a statement.

"We reiterate our call for a thorough investigation, in full collaboration with the Turkish authorities, and a full and rigorous accounting of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Khashoggi's death.

"Those responsible for the killing must be held to account and must face justice."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "deeply troubled" by the explanation, his spokesman said, and in a sharp rebuke, German Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected the Saudi statement, saying that her government expected "transparency in terms of death and background. Those responsible must be held accountable. The information given at the consulates in Istanbul is insufficient."

The European Union, in a statement from its high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini, said it insists on "the need for continued thorough, credible and transparent investigation, shedding proper clarity on the circumstances of the killing and ensuring full accountability of all those responsible for it."

Saudi friends praise 'transparency'

After the Saudi released the results of its preliminary investigation Saturday, its allies across the region commended it for its "transparency."

In a statement, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan "commended King Salman for his great efforts to explore the truth and seek legal accountability, which he said reflects the transparency and justice in his decision-making on the case."

Similar statements from Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Palestinian Authority expressed solidarity with the Saudi position.

Turkey: We will not allow a coverup

Omer Celik, a senior official in Turkey's ruling political party, also questioned the credibility of Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death.

"We are not pre-emptively blaming anyone but we will also not allow a coverup," Celik said on Saturday, in the first official Turkish reaction to Saudi Arabia's midnight statement saying Khashoggi's death was accidental.

"It is a matter of honor for us that this is uncovered. We will shed light on this using all means we have. That is the will of our President."

Trump, however, again indicated to journalists that he believed the Saudi account was credible, although he added that some questions remained, including the whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains.

He has previously defended Saudi Arabia's King Salman and its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying that the two men had strongly denied knowledge of, or involvement in, Khashoggi's disappearance.

Senator: Trump position 'lack of leadership'

Some members of the US Congress were also critical of the Saudi explanation.

"To say that I am skeptical of the new Saudi narrative about Mr. Khashoggi is an understatement," South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, said on Twitter.

Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Mark Warner told CNN the explanation "does not withstand scrutiny and raises more questions than it answers," and called for a "comprehensive and truly independent investigation."

"The Trump administration's position once again demonstrates a lack of leadership, undercutting US leverage, interests and our values."

Khashoggi's former employer, the Washington Post, called the Saudi story a "coverup"

The publisher and chief executive of the Post, for whom Khashoggi was a contributing columnist, cast doubt on Saudi Arabia's explanation.

"The government of Saudi Arabia has shamefully and repeatedly offered one lie after another in the nearly three weeks since Jamal Khashoggi disappeared in their Istanbul consulate," Fred Ryan said in a statement published on Twitter.

"Offering no proof, and contrary to all available evidence, they now expect the world to believe that Jamal died in a fight following a discussion. This is not an explanation; it is a coverup," Ryan said.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 497790

Reported Deaths: 9917
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34102530
DeSoto31839398
Hinds31837622
Jackson24314377
Rankin21881388
Lee15427234
Madison14525279
Jones13772241
Forrest13412250
Lauderdale11937314
Lowndes10934185
Lamar10470135
Pearl River9431237
Lafayette8454138
Hancock7697126
Washington7365156
Oktibbeha7111129
Monroe6727174
Warren6642176
Pontotoc6609101
Neshoba6606205
Panola6460131
Marshall6386132
Bolivar6266145
Union596094
Pike5784152
Alcorn5633101
Lincoln5417134
George491879
Scott470998
Tippah465381
Prentiss464181
Leflore4627143
Itawamba4596104
Adams4570119
Tate4546109
Copiah445191
Simpson4421116
Wayne438572
Yazoo438586
Covington427394
Marion4216107
Sunflower4215104
Coahoma4115104
Leake407787
Newton380879
Grenada3692108
Stone358464
Tishomingo356391
Attala330289
Jasper328265
Winston313191
Clay306375
Chickasaw296767
Clarke290694
Calhoun277945
Holmes266987
Smith262550
Yalobusha232647
Tallahatchie225251
Walthall217763
Greene215548
Lawrence211140
Perry204755
Amite203954
Webster201645
Noxubee185340
Montgomery179056
Jefferson Davis170642
Carroll167438
Tunica158639
Benton147438
Kemper141241
Choctaw133026
Claiborne131237
Humphreys129038
Franklin119128
Quitman106227
Wilkinson104539
Jefferson94234
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 812694

Reported Deaths: 15142
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1139601904
Mobile721751321
Madison51923685
Shelby37240339
Baldwin37044538
Tuscaloosa34902599
Montgomery33919719
Lee23122240
Calhoun22125469
Morgan20620370
Etowah19739496
Marshall18238298
Houston17288405
St. Clair15897337
Cullman15297290
Limestone15178198
Elmore15038284
Lauderdale14125294
Talladega13692271
DeKalb12554258
Walker11069364
Blount10081174
Autauga9883146
Jackson9776177
Coffee9176188
Dale8856180
Colbert8781200
Tallapoosa7032195
Escambia6725127
Covington6672179
Chilton6580160
Russell624758
Franklin5927105
Chambers5558142
Marion4952126
Dallas4854199
Clarke472681
Pike4716105
Geneva4558126
Winston4461101
Lawrence4252117
Bibb421686
Barbour355374
Marengo333989
Monroe329962
Randolph324763
Butler323994
Pickens313581
Henry310565
Hale308787
Cherokee299457
Fayette290579
Washington250851
Cleburne245958
Crenshaw243375
Clay239767
Macon230662
Lamar215446
Conecuh185351
Coosa177738
Lowndes173161
Wilcox167038
Bullock151744
Perry138040
Sumter131138
Greene125544
Choctaw86627
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A cold front passing through our area overnight will bring into our area some of the coolest temperatures of the season so far. We will see most of the highs this weekend only in the upper 60s to lower 70s. While overnight lows will drop off down into the 40s Saturday night.
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