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WASHINGTON — The United States has asked Turkey for any audio or video recordings of the alleged murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Donald Trump said Wednesday.
“Yes, we have asked for it… if it exists,” Trump told reporters at the White House, adding that such evidence “probably does” exist.
Around the time he spoke, the New York Times reported that Turkey has an audio recording of Khashoggi’s last minutes at the consulate that indicated his killing. The paper attributed its report to a senior Turkish official.
Trump suggested the U.S. has not sent the FBI to Turkey to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance because he is not an American citizen — and then raised the possibility that the FBI has, in fact, been sent.
“Well, he wasn’t a citizen of this country, for one thing, and we’re going to determine that, and you don’t know whether or not we have, do you?” he said.
In order to join the Khashoggi investigation, the FBI would have to have a request for assistance from Turkish authorities. So far, U.S. officials have told NBC News, there has been no such request.
Trump said Tuesday that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, denied having any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Some Republican senators have said they believe bin Salman ordered his death.
On Wednesday, the president said he would discuss whether the U.S. can obtain a recording with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is meeting with officials in the region, upon Pompeo’s return.
“I will have a full report from Mike on that when he comes back,” he said. “That’s going to be one of the things, that’s going to be the first question I ask.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday that the president “was smart to send” Pompeo to meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz.
“I need somebody from our government, and I think he’s the logical one to say it, that whatever investigation was done of this was credible,” McConnell said. “And once we know precisely what happened with a credible investigation then we need to see what’s the appropriate response. I can’t imagine there will be no response.”