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Scandal over dead journalist jolts heir to Saudi throne. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, secure for now, is scrambling to contain global backlash over the killing of government critic Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s Istanbul consulate.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin travels to Saudi Arabia Monday to solidify a pressure campaign against Iran. Before leaving, he said it was too early to discuss potential sanctions against the Saudi kingdom over the death of Khashoggi.
Mr. Mnuchin and many business leaders pulled out of a major investment conference next week in Riyadh. A Washington consultancy set up a website called Stopfii.com and listed a “Wall of Shame” of officials still planning to attend.
Voter interest in the midterm elections has surged to records. The increase is helping to drive up President Trump’s approval rating while maintaining the Democrats’ lead as the party most preferred to lead Congress, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found.
Earnings season heats up this week. Some of the biggest names in tech and Dow components are reporting. Google parent Alphabet, Amazon and Twitter all release results on Thursday. Verizon and Caterpillar will report on Tuesday.
Third-quarter gross domestic product data come out Friday. In the second quarter, GDP rose at a 4.2% seasonally adjusted annual rate, powered by gains in consumer spending, net exports and business investment. A widening trade gap could be a drag on third-quarter GDP, which economists expect grew 3.4%.
Migrants stranded at Mexico’s southern border consider their options. Hundreds of Honduran migrants stranded at a crossing began to return home, while others sought to cross the muddy river that divides the countries.
Oct 21, 2018
Khashoggi’s death was a ‘rogue operation’ that the crown prince was not aware of, Saudi foreign minister says I Middle East I The Washington Post.
Security personnel wait Wednesday in front of the gate of the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. (Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images)
ISTANBUL — Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister denied on Sunday that the kingdom’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, had any prior knowledge of an operation that resulted in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and said that the agents involved “weren't people closely tied” to the crown prince.
“This was an operation that was a rogue operation,” Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News. “This was an operation where individuals ended up exceeding the authorities and responsibilities they had. They made a mistake when they killed Jamal Khashoggi.”
“Even the senior leadership of our intelligence service was not aware of this,” Jubeir added, marking the first public comments by a senior Saudi official since early Saturday, when authorities in Riyadh announced they had arrested 18 people and fired five top officials in connection with the journalist’s death.
Jubeir said Saudi Arabia does not know where Khashoggi's body is and that officials have not listened to an audio tape Turkey claims proves Khashoggi's torture, killing and dismemberment.
Jubeir spoke shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday he will soon be revealing details of his government’s investigation into the killing of Khashoggi, a move that could directly contradict Saudi Arabia’s official account of what happened inside its consulate in Istanbul.
Erdogan said he would be explaining the episode “in a very different way” when his ruling party meets on Tuesday, adding to the already intense global pressure Saudi leadership has faced to provide a full picture of how Khashoggi was killed.
“We seek justice and this will be revealed in all its naked truth, not through some ordinary steps but in all its naked truth,” Erdogan said, according to the semiofficial Anadolu news agency. “The incident will be revealed entirely.”
Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been at odds over what happened inside the consulate ever since Khashoggi, a U.S.-based Washington Post contributing columnist and critic of the Saudi monarchy, disappeared there on Oct. 2.
Turkish authorities almost immediately concluded Khashoggi was deliberately targeted by a 15-man squad of Saudi agents who killed and dismembered him inside the diplomatic mission. The authorities said their conclusions are based on audio recordings from inside the consulate that provide a clear account of how Khashoggi was killed.
Saudi Arabia denied any knowledge of his fate for two weeks. On Saturday, the kingdom changed course dramatically, announcing that a preliminary investigation found that Khashoggi was killed after a fistfight inside the consulate.
Saudi prosecutors said 18 people had been arrested and five top officials fired for their connection to the case. Two of the dismissed officials were among Mohammed’s closest advisers.
“Why did those 15 people come [to Istanbul]; why were 18 people arrested [in Saudi Arabia]?” Erdogan said Sunday. “This should be explained in full detail.”
The arrests in Saudi Arabia did little to ease intense global pressure on Mohammed, whose self-styled image as a modernizing reformer has been tarnished by Khashoggi’s killing. The Saudi explanation has also been met with skepticism by European nations and U.S. lawmakers who have expressed concern that the Saudi investigation is solely designed to shield Mohammed from any culpability.
President Trump initially said the Saudi explanation of Khashoggi’s death was credible. But in an interview with The Post late Saturday, Trump conceded that “there had been deception.” Still, he defended Saudi Arabia as an “incredible ally” and expressed hope that Mohammed was not involved.
Erdogan’s comments came after a spokesman for his party said Saturday that Turkey would not allow a coverup of Khashoggi’s death. Taken together, it suggests Turkey’s president is seeking to increase his leverage over the Saudis and the Trump administration, which has tried to protect its Saudi allies.
Seeking to contain the international fallout, which has included calls for a transparent independent investigation and a host of nations and corporations pulling their participation in a high-profile investment conference in Saudi Arabia this week, Jubeir said the shifting Saudi account of what happened was a result of a coverup by the arrested agents.
“They told us that he left the consulate,” Jubeir said. “They came back to Saudi Arabia; they filed a report to that effect.”
A public prosecutor launched his investigation after “discrepancies” between the agents' report and the reports coming out of Turkey, which Jubeir said revealed that the team had falsified its report.
“The individuals who did this took this outside the scope of their authority. Obviously, it was a tremendous mistake made. And what compounded the mistake was their attempt to cover up.”
Jubeir added, “This is an aberration, this is a mistake, this is a criminal act, and those responsible for it will be punished.”
Morello reported from Washington.