While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was taciturn with reporters Tuesday, saying things like “I don’t want to talk about any facts” and “we talked about the importance of the investigation” after his meeting with Saudi leaders, Turkish officials are being much more loquacious about the alleged slaying of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
According to a Tuesday Wall Street Journal report, Turkish officials have evidence, including tapes, that captured disturbing details of Khashoggi’s alleged drugging, torture, murder and dismemberment.
The recording reportedly captures Khashoggi’s murder in the office of Saudi consul general Mohammad al-Otaibi minutes after he entered the building. He was not interrogated, but beaten, drugged and killed by a team of Saudi officials, per the Wall Street Journal.
The tapes also include a voice suggesting that the consul exit the room, while another man, identified as Saudi forensic specialist Salah Al Tabiqi, advises the remaining people to listen to music while he used a bone saw to dismember Khashoggi’s body.
Despite the steady trickle of horrific details from the Turkish government, American leaders, including Pompeo, seem content with leaving the investigation in the Saudis’ — the alleged killers’ — hands.
“They promised accountability for each of those persons that they determined as a result of their investigation deserves accountability,” Pompeo said after his meeting with the Saudis, which was punctuated by broad grins and capped with a statement expressing Pompeo’s gratitude for their “investigation.”
Pompeo is taking cues from his boss, as President Donald Trump has again and again shown his reluctance to punish or even seriously investigate his friend, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the other Saudis.
In an interview with the Associated Press Tuesday, Trump likened the Saudis to Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, asserting that they were being unfairly accused of the murder.
“I think we have to find out what happened first,” Trump said. “Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I don’t like that. We just went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent all the way as far as I’m concerned.”
He made the comments shortly after a phone call with bin Salman, a close associate of both him and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.