Trump Signals He Doesn’t Believe Saudi Rulers Involved in Journalist’s Death

Tweet follows conversation with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House in March 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signaled he doesn’t believe Saudi rulers were involved in the suspected murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi after a telephone conversation with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Just spoke with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia who totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish Consulate,” Trump tweeted. “He was with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo … during the call, and told me that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter. Answers will be forthcoming shortly.”

Trump has also said it was possible Khashoggi was murdered by “rogue killers” while inside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul. He was last seen entering the building on Oct. 2.

The president’s response to reports of Khashoggi’s apparent demise has been markedly different from members of his own party.

Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday on “Fox & Friends” that he plans to “sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia.” The South Carolina Republican indicated he was opposed to doing business with Saudi Arabia until the crown prince was ousted.

“Nothing happens in Saudi Arabia without MBS knowing it,” Graham said of the crown prince, who is widely known by his initials. “I can never do business with Saudi Arabia again until we get this behind us.”

Trump spoke on the phone Monday with Saudi King Salman, who also denied involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, before dispatching Pompeo to help investigate the matter.

Watch: Trump Suggests ‘Rogue Killers’ Could Be Responsible for Saudi Journalist's Death

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.