WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday said American investigators are working with Turkish and Saudi officials to determine what happened to a Washington Post journalist believed to have been killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
Mr. Trump said he and his administration are “looking at it very, very seriously.”
“We want to find out what happened,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday morning in an interview with Fox & Friends. “He went in and it doesn’t look like he came out.”
The journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, has not been seen since Oct. 2 after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials suspect a Saudi hit squad killed and dismembered Mr. Khashoggi inside the consulate.
Saudi officials have said that Mr. Khashoggi left the consulate on his own later that day and that they do not know what happened to him afterward.
Despite the Saudis possible involvement in the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, which has been widely condemned internationally, American relations with Saudi Arabia are “excellent,” Mr. Trump said.
Mr. Trump said he expected to have more information about what happened to Mr. Khashoggi soon.
“We don’t like it,” Mr. Trump said of the suspicion that Mr. Khashoggi was lured to the Saudi embassy and killed. “I don’t like it. No good.”
American intelligence agencies captured communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to draw Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, a former senior American official said.
Mr. Khashoggi is a citizen of Saudi Arabia and has been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since last year. While in Istanbul last week, Mr. Khashoggi visited the Saudi consulate to obtain a document that was needed for him to marry his Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz.
Mr. Trump has made Saudi Arabia a focal point of his Middle East policy. The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has developed a close relationship with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, raising questions about what will come of that alliance if it becomes clear that Prince Mohammed was involved in the Istanbul operation.
Prince Mohammed’s prominent role in Saudi Arabia already raised the eyebrows of the international community. Nearly a year ago, the Saudi government began locking up influential businessmen in an anticorruption campaign. The businessmen were released but are tracked by the government through the ankle bracelets they must wear.
Noah Weiland contributed reporting.