President Donald Trump said on Thursday he presumes missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and that the United States response to Saudi Arabia will likely be "very severe" but that he still wanted to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.
Answering a question on what would be the consequences for Saudi Arabia, Trump said: "Well, it'll have to be very severe".
The case of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has shocked and captivated the world, as information trickles out about his disappearence and possible murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Trump has largely stood by the Saudis over the past week or so as they've repeatedly denied involvement. I mean, it's bad, bad stuff.
"That's based on everything - intelligence coming from every side".
"Given the reports surrounding Mr Khashoggi's disappearance, America's relationship with Saudi Arabia ought to be carefully scrutinised, as should any possible sale of USA weapons to Saudi Arabia", he said.
Asked if he heard or asked to hear audio of Khashoggi's alleged slaying, he said: "I don't have anything to say about that". However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said the kingdom should be given more time to investigate before the USA lays any blame or considers action.
Trump said he was waiting for details from "about three different investigations so we can get to the bottom of" Khoshoggi's disappearance.
ABC News also reported that "Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate following a struggle that lasted eight minutes and they believe he died of strangulation".
If the Saudi government is found to be culpable in Khashoggi's disappearance, the legislation prohibits all USA military aid and sales to Saudi Arabia until Congress passes a resolution approving such sales.
Turkish authorities are conducting a separate investigation from Saudi's probe.
Trump has largely stood by the Saudis over the past week as they've issued a series of denials.
US President Donald Trump said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman denied having any knowledge of what happened to the Washington Post contributor. "They're an important strategic ally of the United States, and we need to be mindful of that", he said.
Meanwhile, Trump has touted the strategic alliance between the USA and Saudi Arabia, boasting about billions of dollars in planned arms sales to the Saudis. And a senior U.S. official said Pompeo had warned the Saudi crown prince that his credibility as a future leader was at stake, reflecting the administration's concern about how the case could affect relations.