Trump: ‘Rogue killers’ may be to blame for Saudi writer’s death

Trump suggested that “rogue killers” may be responsible for the fate of a missing Washington Post columnist named Jamal Khashoggi.

By Associated Press

President Donald Trump told reporters as he departed the White House en route to Florida Monday that he spoke by phone with Saudi Arabia’s King and that “the King firmly denied any knowledge” of the disappearance.

Trump also commented that he doesn’t “want to get” into King Salman’s mind, but said, “it sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers.”

The president added, “We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon, but his was a flat denial.”

Turkish officials say they fear a Saudi hit team killed Khashoggi, who has been missing nearly two weeks.

Meanwhile, Trump said he was dispatching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with the Saudi king, with Pompeo expected to go to Riyadh first and later Turkey.

The White House previously brushed aside threats by Saudi Arabia that it may economically retaliate for any U.S. punitive action imposed over the suspected murder of Khashoggi, pledging a “swift, open, transparent investigation” into his disappearance.

Two leading Republican senators said Congress stands ready to act, including a possible halt of military sales, if Trump doesn’t.

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White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow declined to speculate on what Trump might do after the president promised “severe punishment” in a “60 Minutes” interview, if the U.S. determines that Khashoggi was indeed killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.