Who is Jamal Khashoggi?
Khashoggi is a prominent Saudi journalist, best known for his interview with terror mastermind Osama bin Laden. A royal court insider-turned-critic, Khashoggi left the country in 2017 and began writing for the Washington Post. He has been sharply critical of the current Saudi administration, and its intolerance of those "who dare to express opinions contrary to those" of the leadership.
On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Khashoggi went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork that would allow him to get married. He entered the building at 1:30 p.m. and has not been seen since.
His fiancée, friends, and editors at the Post began to raise the alarm on Oct. 3. In response to accusations of detaining Khashoggi, the Saudi government denied all claims, asserting that he had left the consulate after his visit.
By that Saturday, the Turkish government had launched an investigation into the disappearance and began reporting that Khashoggi had been killed in the consulate, which Saudi officials denied vehemently.
On Oct. 10, Turkish officials claimed that the "highest levels of the royal court" in Saudi Arabia ordered Khashoggi's assassination and dismemberment by a 15-man team.
Saudi Arabia faces international backlash
Some of the biggest names in US business and finance have canceled plans to attend a big investment conference in Saudi Arabia, and media sponsors including the New York Times and CNN have pulled out of covering the event.
Media and leaders worldwide are demanding Saudi Arabia explain what happened, with the UK, France and Germany all calling for a "credible investigation" into the events.
Trump under pressure
Though President Trump has expressed concern, he has also been reluctant to criticize the kingdom or its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Pressure is mounting on the White House to take a firmer stance; some senators have called for Trump to determine whether to impose sanctions on those responsible.
After a phone call with Saudi King Salman today, Trump suggested that "rogue killers" could be behind Khashoggi's disappearance, citing Salman's "flat denial" of responsibility.
What's happening now
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left shortly after noon today for Riyadh to meet with King Salman.
Sources say the Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge that Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey.
President Trump — and his business — has reaped financial benefits from Saudi Arabia and its representatives.
The President made millions selling apartments in his New York buildings to the kingdom, and the Trump Organization has benefited from Saudi business at its hotels in Washington, New York and Chicago
At the Trump International Hotel in Washington, which has served as something of an unofficial headquarters for foreign governments in the Trump era, a lobbying firm for Saudi Arabia paid the hotel more than $270,000 between October 2016 and March 2017.
Trump hotels in New York and Chicago have had a rush of visitors from Saudi Arabia in recent months, according to The Washington Post, and in New York the Trump International Hotel's general manager wrote in a letter to room owners in May that revenue had increased in the first quarter of 2018 due to "a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may add a stop in Turkey to his current trip to Saudi Arabia, President Trump said Monday.
"He's got instructions to find out what happened," Trump said. "It's a terrible situation ... I don't like it one bit."
Earlier Monday, Pompeo left Washington for Riyadh at around midday to meet with Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Trump's orders, as authorities continue to investigate the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
President Trump said he had seen press reports that Saudi Arabia is preparing a report acknowledging that Jamal Khashoggi died during an interrogation gone wrong, but said he does not yet know if the report is accurate or just "rumor."
"I just don't know. I'm going to have to see what they say," Trump told reporters at briefing in Warner Robins, Georgia. "Nobody knows if it's an official report. So far it's just the rumor of a report coming out."
The President said he remains eager to get to the bottom of what happened to Khashoggi and noted that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are "working together" to determine what happened.
"There are a lot of people working on it," he said.
Trump told White House reporters that Salman offered him a "flat denial" in relation to the disappearance of Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on October 2.
"It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows," Trump said. It was not clear whether Trump was offering his own analysis or whether the suggestion came from Salman.
"We are going to try to get to the bottom of it very soon," Trump added. "But his was a flat denial."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left Washington for Riyadh around midday Monday to meet with Saudi Arabia's King Salman on President Trump's orders, as the investigation into the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi intensified.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was last seen in public when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in Turkey on Oct. 2.
Experts have dismissed claims that a recording of the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been transmitted using his Apple Watch.
The Turkish newspaper Sabah reported Saturday morning that Khashoggi turned on the recording function of his Apple Watch before walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, and that audio clips of his "interrogation, torture and killing were audio recorded and sent to both his phone and to iCloud."
CNN could not independently verify the Sabah report and was seeking comment from both Saudi and Turkish officials. Saudi Arabia firmly denies any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance and says he left the consulate that afternoon.
On Friday, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN Turkish authorities had audio and visual evidence that showed Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate. It's unclear how they obtained that evidence though.
And claims the journalist's smartwatch was able to transmit audio of his alleged murder inside the consulate to his iPhone, which his fiancée was carrying outside the building, are unlikely.
The Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong — one that was intended to lead to his abduction from Turkey, according to two sources.
One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was carried out without clearance and transparency and that those involved will be held responsible.
One of the sources acknowledged that the report is still being prepared and cautioned that things could change.