WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said Thursday that he believes Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Ahmed Khashoggi is dead and that the Saudi government is responsible, but in another interview the senator was noncommittal about the journalist’s fate.
“There is no question the Saudis did this,” Corker told CNN in an interview.
Corker went on to say he concurred with an intelligence assessment by Turkish authorities that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Turkish government has identified a team of 15 men whom they believe were behind the killing.
Khashoggi, who has publicly criticized the Saudi regime, went to the Saudi consulate on Oct. 2 seeking marriage papers and has not been seen since. His fiancee, who waited hours outside in a car, said he never came out of the building.
There has been no confirmation of the Turkish officials’ or Corker’s allegations.
But in an interview with TMN Thursday afternoon, Corker was noncommittal about Khashoggi’s fate.
When multimedia journalist Doug Christian asked Corker if he thought Khashoggi was dead, the senator replied: “We don’t know for sure yet. We all suspect that Saudi Arabia has been involved with killing a journalist, but we don’t know. We strongly suspect it. I think that probably’s what’s happened. I hope it hasn’t happened.”
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday afternoon that the U.S. government has offered law enforcement assistance to the Turkish government in its investigation.
She said at a press briefing that “we are all concerned about his whereabouts. We don’t have any information on his whereabouts right now or what happened to him.”
She noted that there are a lot of rumors and speculation about what could have happened to Khashoggi. But “we don’t have the facts yet.” She said the State Department is holding back until they get “concrete evidence.”
“An investigation … is underway, and we’re not going to get ahead of that.”
Nauert said U.S. officials “have communicated with the Saudi ambassador to the United States.
“It’s our understanding that he is on his way back to Saudi Arabia. We have said to him that we expect information from him upon his return to the United States,” she added.
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that members of his administration have had “high-level talks” with Saudis about Khashoggi.
Later on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and White House advisor Jared Kushner all have spoken with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and requested a transparent investigation.