WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday he's not satisfied with the explanations he's heard about the death of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi and is awaiting reports from U.S. personnel returning from the region.
Khashoggi, who lived in the United States and wrote critically about the Saudi royal family, died earlier this month at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia said he was killed in a fistfight, but Turkish officials said the 59-year-old Washington Post columnist was attacked and killed by a 15-man Saudi team.
Asked if he believed Saudi Arabia's explanation, Trump said, "I am not satisfied with what I've heard."
"We're going to get to the bottom of it. We have people over in Saudi Arabia now. We have top intelligence people in Turkey. They're coming back either tonight or tomorrow," Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before leaving for a political rally in Texas.
"We're going to know a lot over the next two days about the Saudi situation," said Trump, who spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday. "It's a very sad thing."
Trump seemed to be taking a tougher stance Monday against Saudi Arabia. When asked Friday whether he thought the Saudi explanation was credible, the president answered: "I do. I do."
That statement rankled members of Congress and former government officials who have accused Riyadh of trying to cover up the truth behind Khashoggi's death or hide any evidence that the kingdom, particularly the crown prince, authorized it.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, who has been trying to coax Trump into ending arms sales to Saudi Arabia, said Monday that it's "laughable" to believe the crown prince was not involved in Khashoggi's death.10 comments on this story
Trump said any U.S. response should not involve scrapping billions of dollars in arms sales, which would hurt U.S. defense industries and eliminate U.S. jobs. "I don't want to lose all of that investment that's being made in our country," he said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will continue to demand answers. "He'll make a determination on what he wants to do once he feels like he has all of the information that he needs," she said.
Associated Press writers Jonathan Lemire in New York and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.