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.

Confirmed Cases: 61125

Reported Deaths: 1711
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5269106
DeSoto332627
Madison229756
Harrison215232
Rankin214628
Jackson199434
Jones177457
Forrest164053
Washington149232
Lauderdale132988
Lee123930
Neshoba119788
Lamar112112
Oktibbeha105435
Lowndes98932
Warren96427
Scott95517
Bolivar94832
Copiah91724
Panola91211
Sunflower90822
Lafayette88111
Holmes84747
Leflore84059
Pike83232
Grenada81320
Yazoo78611
Leake76825
Lincoln74540
Pontotoc7377
Wayne73321
Simpson71227
Monroe70250
Coahoma66310
Tate65023
Marion60118
Covington58811
Adams58425
Marshall5718
Winston57115
George5475
Union53113
Newton51611
Attala49824
Tallahatchie49310
Pearl River48536
Walthall45318
Chickasaw43819
Noxubee41910
Claiborne40013
Smith38013
Calhoun3788
Jasper3768
Clay37013
Alcorn3574
Prentiss3426
Hancock33614
Tishomingo3204
Lawrence3135
Tippah31212
Yalobusha31210
Itawamba30710
Clarke30025
Montgomery2933
Tunica2786
Humphreys27111
Carroll24511
Greene22611
Quitman2251
Kemper22315
Perry2227
Amite2105
Jefferson Davis2026
Webster19912
Jefferson1936
Wilkinson18712
Sharkey1801
Stone1523
Choctaw1274
Benton1250
Franklin1162
Issaquena211
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 90890

Reported Deaths: 1611
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson11859225
Mobile9086191
Montgomery6249143
Madison501425
Tuscaloosa397463
Baldwin321023
Shelby305032
Marshall296630
Unassigned273453
Lee250540
Morgan222315
Etowah193026
DeKalb170113
Elmore160237
Calhoun15609
Walker147063
Houston131912
Dallas128823
Russell12331
St. Clair121712
Franklin119620
Limestone119613
Cullman114111
Colbert109312
Lauderdale107112
Autauga102420
Escambia97915
Talladega91813
Jackson8283
Chambers82138
Tallapoosa81478
Dale78520
Butler75235
Blount7363
Chilton7106
Coffee7095
Covington70920
Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55224
Marion54224
Marengo52014
Clarke4869
Hale45926
Bullock43811
Perry4294
Winston42911
Wilcox4059
Monroe3914
Randolph38810
Bibb3743
Conecuh37310
Pickens3679
Sumter36118
Lawrence3100
Washington31011
Macon30913
Crenshaw2863
Choctaw27412
Henry2453
Cherokee2427
Greene24211
Geneva2320
Clay2175
Lamar1982
Fayette1745
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
Columbus
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Oxford
Overcast
70° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 72°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather