RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - President Donald Trump offered embattled Saudi Arabia a suggestion of support Tuesday amid mounting pressure over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, saying the kingdom is being judged "guilty until proven innocent."
The remarks, in an interview with the Associated Press, put Trump widely out of step with many world leaders amid Turkish assertions that Khashoggi was killed by a Saudi hit team earlier this month after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
It also could complicate talks planned Wednesday between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish leaders on the Khashoggi case.
"Here we go again with you're guilty until proven innocent," Trump told the AP, comparing it to allegations of sexual assault leveled against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.
Trump has shifted his views several times since Khashoggi - a Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident - was last seen in public Oct. 2.
Trump last week said that Saudi Arabia would face "severe punishment" if the kingdom is found to have a link to Khashoggi's apparent death. But he appeared to reject possible sanctions, claiming it could harm the deep defense industry ties with Saudi Arabia.
Two weeks after Khashoggi was last seen in public, the case has splintered into an array of conjecture and claims.
But Turkish investigators have not wavered in their claims of Saudi involvement. On Tuesday, Turkish authorities sought to expand the scope of their investigation, demanding access to the main Saudi diplomatic residence in Istanbul and vehicles in the consulate fleet.
In another possible window in the case, Turkish officials provided The Washington Post with scans of passports that they say were carried by seven men who were part of the suspected 15-member Saudi squad allegedly involved in Khashoggi's death.
The Washington Post has not been able to independently verify their identities.
Saudi rulers have steadfastly denied any hand in the disappearance of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist who had been critical of the Saudi leadership.
The next steps on all sides remained unclear.
U.S. officials expect the Saudi government to accept responsibility for the death of Khashoggi in an explanation that shields the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman - the de facto Saudi ruler - from fault, said a diplomat familiar with the situation. The diplomat spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensentive matter.
In Turkey, however, authorities have insisted on even greater latitude for their investigation.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said authorities now want access to the Istanbul residence of the Saudi consul general - who has left Istanbul to return to the Saudi capital, Riyadh - and the consulate's vehicles.
At the same time, Turkish leaders planned talks Wednesday with Pompeo hat would likely include Turkey's assertations that a Saudi hit team killed Khashoggi after he entered the Saudi Consulate on Oct. 2.
Pompeo was in Riyadh on Tuesday to hear an entirely different account: Another round of denials from Saudi rulers.
In a statement, Pompeo said the crown prince pledged to conduct "a full and complete conclusion with full transparency for the world to see." But Pompeo gave no details on the possible findings or when such a report could be issued.
Earlier, Trump tweeted that the crown prince "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, too, did not elaborate.
In Turkey, experts sifted through possible evidence at the last public place the journalist was seen alive. Turkish officials have asserted that a Saudi hit team killed Khashoggi this month after he entered the Saudi Consulate.
On Monday, forensics experts had their first chance to comb the site, and they plan to expand their search to diplomatic vehicles and the main residence. A source in Istanbul who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the probe, said investigators found evidence of homicide in the form of blood.
Amid the fallout, Saudi Arabia's consul general in Istanbul, Mohammad al-Otaibi, left Turkey for Riyadh on Tuesday, according to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, citing diplomatic sources.
"The investigation is looking into many things, such as toxic materials and those materials being removed by painting them over," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters.
U.S. officials began predicting over the weekend, however, that the Saudis would inevitably admit complicity in Khashoggi's death and claim it was a "botched operation," said one person familiar with the discussions.
Even as Trump appeared to soften his stance on Saudi Arabia, some of Trump's allies in Congress have broken sharply with the White House.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was a leading voice of anger Tuesday, calling the Saudi crown prince "toxic" and saying, "This guy has got to go."
Graham's comments, on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends," underscored the apparent frustration by some in Congress about the 33-year-old crown prince and his crackdowns on dissent.
"He had this guy murdered in the consulate in Turkey. Expect me to ignore it? I feel used and abused," Graham said, referring to his previous advocacy for Saudi Arabia as a senator. "I was on the floor every time defending Saudi Arabia because they are a good ally."
Turkish officials have released details of their investigation, including video that suggests that a team of Saudi agents was dispatched to Istanbul to capture Khashoggi or kill him.
The Turkish government has told the Trump administration that it has audio and video recordings of what occurred inside the consulate that day. U.S. officials have said this material supports the conclusion that Khashoggi was interrogated, tortured and killed.
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The Washington Post's Cunningham reported from Istanbul. Kareem Fahim in Istanbul, and John Wagner and Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.
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Video: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh Oct. 16 for talks about the disappearance of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi.(The Washington Post)
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WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump celebrated the dismissal of a defamation suit brought against him by adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, calling Daniels "Horseface" on Tuesday and vowing to retaliate against her and her attorney.
Citing a Fox News headline about a judge tossing Daniels's suit, Trump tweeted: "Great, now I can go after Horseface and her 3rd rate lawyer in the Great State of Texas."
Trump went on: "She will confirm the letter she signed! She knows nothing about me, a total con!"
Daniels's attorney, Michael Avenatti, responded by calling Trump a "disgusting misogynist" and an "embarrassment to the United States."
"Bring everything you have, because we are going to demonstrate to the world what a complete shyster and liar you are," Avenatti tweeted minutes after Trump.
"How many other women did you cheat on your wife with while you had a baby at home?" Avenatti wrote.
The dueling tweets came after District Judge S. James Otero dismissed Daniels' suit claiming that Trump defamed her when he suggested that she was lying about being threatened to keep quiet about their alleged relationship. Avenatti appealed the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, he wrote Monday night on Twitter.
Daniels has claimed that she was approached by a man in 2011 in Las Vegas who told her to "leave Trump alone" and threatened her infant daughter. She says she and Trump had a brief affair in 2006.
Trump denies that he and Daniels had an affair. In April, he tweeted that Daniels's story about the threat was a "con job," which became the foundation of her defamation suit.
It was not immediately clear what Trump meant when he vowed to "go after" Daniels and Avenatti in Texas. Daniels, whose given name is Stephanie Clifford, lives in the state.
Avenatti dismissed Trump's threat as "absurd."
"There is no legal basis that would allow him to do this," he said in a statement released on Twitter.
The "letter" Trump mentioned seemed to refer to a signed Jan. 10, 2018, statement from Daniels in which she denied having an affair with Trump and called allegations to the contrary "absolutely false." The statement was released to the media that month by Trump's then-attorney, Michael Cohen.
The statement, which Daniels has since withdrawn, contradicted an extensive account of the alleged liaison she gave in a 2011 interview with In Touch magazine.
Daniels claims that her affair with Trump took place in July 2006, four months after the birth of Trump's third son, Barron. In her new book, "Full Disclosure," she gives a detailed account of the evening she said they had sex, including describing Trump's genitals.
Daniels responded to the "Horseface" tweet by referring to Trump as "Tiny."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present your president," she tweeted. "In addition to his . . . umm . . . shortcomings, he has demonstrated his incompetence, hatred of women and lack of self control on Twitter AGAIN! And perhaps a penchant for bestiality."
Avenatti retweeted her message with a reference to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who during the 2016 Republican presidential primary said that Trump has small hands, another implied reference to his genitals.
The dismissal of the defamation suit was a blow for Daniels, and for Avenatti, who has cultivated an image as one of Trump's chief antagonists and is considering a presidential run in 2020. Their other suit against Trump, over a nondisclosure agreement Daniels signed in 2016, remains pending before Otero.
Trump has a long history of insulting women for their looks.
In 2015, he was quoted mocking the appearance of former business executive Carly Fiorina, then a rival for the GOP presidential nomination.
"Look at that face," Trump was quoted as saying as he watched Fiorina during a television interview. "Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?"
That year, he was asked during a primary debate about his use of language such as "fat pigs," "dogs," "slobs" and "disgusting animals" to describe women.
"Only Rosie O'Donnell," he replied.