Trump also said he was dispatching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with King Salman.
“It wasn’t like there was a question in his mind. The denial was very strong,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, adding that the King “firmly denied any knowledge” of what happened to Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and Saudi dissident.
The President said he spoke with Salman on the phone Monday, and said that after the call, he believed “rogue killers” may have killed Khashoggi, suggesting that was a possible explanation Salman offered up during their conversation.
“It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows. We are going to try to get to the bottom of it very soon,” Trump said. “But his was a flat denial.”
The President said he was simply relaying the Saudi king’s denial and vowed that “we will check it all out.”
Lawmakers who have seen US intelligence reports on Khashoggi’s October 2 disappearance from the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, however, have said there’s little doubt as to who is responsible.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, told CNN that the “intel points directly” to Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s disappearance and said it needs to produce the 59-year-old father of four to dispel concerns.
The President said Monday that Pompeo will “immediately get on a plane” to Saudi Arabia and will likely also go to Turkey “if necessary” to look into the matter.
Trump also emphasized the joint investigation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, saying King Salman told him “Turkey and Saudi Arabia are working hand in hand, very closely, on getting to the bottom of what happened.”
International pressure also is mounting on Riyadh to explain the journalist’s disappearance. Saudi Arabia has given Turkey permission to search its Istanbul consulate Monday afternoon, a Turkish diplomatic source told CNN.
Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of the country’s government, disappeared almost two weeks ago after he went into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, to obtain paperwork to marry his Turkish fiancée.
CNN’s Allie Malloy contributed to this report.