Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi vanished after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 to obtain a document for his upcoming marriage. His disappearance created an international crisis. Turkish officials said they believed he was killed inside the building, and they demanded answers from Saudi Arabia.

President Trump and his administration moved between a hard and a soft approach to Khashoggi’s disappearance and slaying. While Trump initially said the Saudis’ denial of having any knowledge of what happened to Khashoggi was credible, he then expressed doubts, calling it “the worst coverup ever” after the Saudi government changed its initial account, acknowledging that Khashoggi did die inside the Saudi Consulate, in “fistfight” with “rogue” agents.

More recently, Saudi officials indicted 11 Saudi citizens in the slaying, and the Trump administration announced economic sanctions against 17 Saudis accused of taking part in the plot to kill the journalist. But even as the CIA has concluded with high confidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the killing, Trump released a long statement preemptively making the case for not punishing Mohammed or his father, King Salman, even if they were involved.

“The coverup was one of the worst in the history of coverups.”
Trump on Oct. 23, 2018
“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event. ... In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Trump on Nov. 20, 2018
Mike Pompeo
Secretary of state
“I don’t want to talk about any of the facts; they didn’t want to, either.”
Oct. 17, 2018, to reporters traveling with him to Turkey, when asked whether the Saudis had said whether Khashoggi was dead or alive
Donald Trump
Oct. 20, 2018, in a phone interview with The Washington Post

Aaron Blake contributed to this report.

About this story

Photo illustrations based on photos by Carolyn Kaster/AP, Evan Vucci/AP, Alex Brandon/AP, Leah Millis/Reuters and Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Originally published Oct. 17, 2018.


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