Saudis Weigh Using Intel Official As Scapegoat For Khashoggi Disappearance

A flame from a Saudi Aramco oil installation known as Pump 3 burns brightly during sunset in the Saudi Arabian desert near the oil-rich area Al-Khurais 160 kms east of the capital Riyadh

A flame from a Saudi Aramco oil installation known as Pump 3 burns brightly during sunset in the Saudi Arabian desert near the oil-rich area Al-Khurais 160 kms east of the capital Riyadh

But Trump's willingness to give the Saudis more time to investigate the matter - at the behest of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, even as US intelligence agencies and worldwide leaders say Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is behind Khashoggi's October 2 disappearance - complicates the growing crisis with the U.S.'s uneasy ally.

Trump, who has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that Khashoggi, a United States resident and Washington Post columnist, had likely been killed.

President Donald Trump on Thursday made what was perhaps his most forceful statement yet on the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

But Mr Trump said he was still waiting on the outcome of several investigations before drawing any conclusions.

Trump on Thursday acknowledged Khashoggi likely is dead.

According to the reports, the assassination squad included agents tied to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a powerful figure in the Saudi royal family and lynchpin in the trend toward ever-tightening relations with the White House.

Trump has speculated without providing evidence that "rogue killers" could be responsible.

The president of the United States, who has long referred to journalists as enemies of the people, celebrated an act of violence against a reporter on USA soil - to cheers and laughter from his supporters.

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Twitter suspended a pro-Saudi bot operation spreading tweets about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after NBC News raised questions, the network reported.

Mr. Trump said he would wait for the results of three different investigations before drawing conclusions.

This year's event comes as Saudi Arabia faces intense global pressure following the disappearance and apparent death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen and USA resident who has written critically of the Saudi regime.

President Trump said on "Trish Regan Primetime" that it "would be bad" if Saudi Arabia's leadership had any knowledge of Khashoggi's disappearance.

The sudden cash windfall raised some eyebrows on Wednesday, given the ongoing investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance, but U.S. officials denied that the swift transfer of cash between Saudi Arabia and the USA had anything to do with Pompeo's visit to Riyadh. And a senior U.S. official said Pompeo had warned the Saudi crown prince that his credibility as a future leader was at stake, reflecting the administration's concern about how the case could affect relations.

While it's true Khashoggi was drawn toward more radical streams of thought in his youth, he later moved toward a liberal, secular point of view, those who have tracked his career say.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin announced, "We have decided I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia". The prince is next in line for the throne held by his aged father King Salman.

However, Saudi Arabia says reports on Mr Khashoggi's death are "completely false and baseless" and that it is "open to co-operation" to find out what happened.

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