Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post’

Trump to Replace Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

November 13, 2018

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen may be the next cabinet member to be ousted from the Trump administration, according to a new report.

The Washington Post reports that President Trump has shared with advisers that he will boot Nielsen as early as this week, despite opposition from White House chief of staff John Kelly. Kelly is advocating for Nielsen to remain at her post or to delay her departure.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visits the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center in Arlington, Va., last week. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Trump, who has expressed dissatisfaction with Nielsen’s performance for months, has told aides he is ready for Nielsen to depart the administration as soon as possible, five current and former White House officials told the Post. The officials also said Trump canceled a trip with Nielsen to South Texas this week.

Nielsen, who first assumed her position Dec. 6, has been dissatisfied with her job the past several months, but has been hesitant to leave her post, colleagues said.

But a press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security said that Nielsen is dedicated to carrying out Trump’s priorities and will “continue to do so.”

“The Secretary is honored to lead the men and women of DHS and is committed to implementing the President’s security-focused agenda to protect Americans from all threats and will continue to do so,” Tyler Houlton told the Washington Examiner.

According to the Post, Trump is allegedly difficult to satisfy and grows impatient when Nielsen has attempted to spell out underpinnings of immigration laws after Trump has suggested dramatic action such as cutting back immigration or closing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump has told aides he is eyeing several potential candidates to fill Nielsen’s spot, including commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Kevin McAleenan, and the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration David Pekoske.

“If I were advising the White House I’d encourage them to nominate someone with executive branch experience,” a senior DHS official told the Post. “This will be our fourth secretary in two years. The last thing we want is someone who needs hand-holding.”

Kelly previously served as the head of the agency before he moved over to his post at the White House and pushed for Nielsen to succeed him. Meanwhile, Kelly’s own role at the White House remains uncertain, the Post reports.


Trump is preparing to remove Kirstjen Nielsen as Homeland Security secretary, aides say


Schiff wants to probe Trump for targeting CNN, Washington Post

November 12, 2018

A top House Democrat wants to probe President Trump’s attempts to punish media companies who give him negative news coverage.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told “Axios on HBO” that he wants to see if Trump abused his power when he tried to meddle in the affairs of companies associated with The Washington Post and CNN.

Image result for Adam Schiff, photos

In question, Schiff said, was whether the president used “the instrument of state power to punish the press.”

For one, Trump had publicly suggested that Amazon— whose founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post — was ripping off the US Postal Service.

Schiff told Axios that the president “was secretly meeting with the postmaster [general] in an effort to browbeat the postmaster [general] into raising postal rates on Amazon.”

Former officials additionally told Axios that despite telling Trump that the Postal Service’s financial hardship had nothing to do with Amazon, the president couldn’t be convinced.

“This appears to be an effort by the president to use the instruments of state power to punish Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post,” Schiff said on “Axios on HBO.”

Trump has also said he’d consider antitrust action against Amazon.

The California Democrat also wanted Congress to investigate whether the president tried to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, as a way to get back at CNN, which he consistently labels as “fake news.”

“We don’t know, for example, whether the effort to hold up the merger of the parent of CNN was a concern over antitrust, or whether this was an effort merely to punish CNN,” Schiff said.

Schiff’s comments come just days after one of the president’s biggest flare-ups with the press. At a Wednesday press conference on the heels of the midterm election, the president became annoyed at CNN’s Jim Acosta for asking about the caravan and the Russia investigation.

“I’ll tell you what: CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN,” Trump told Acosta.

The White House later announced it was pulling Acosta’s White House press pass “until further notice,” accusing the CNN reporter of “placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern.”

The White House alleged that Acosta had acted brutishly toward an intern who was responsible for handling the press conference’s handheld microphones.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted out a video clip of the incident in which it looked sped up, making Acosta’s moves more jarring.

The badge suspension didn’t hinder Acosta, who traveled to Paris to cover Trump’s trip there this weekend.

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Why Republicans lost the ‘pre-existing conditions’ war (Hint: It’s a myth)

November 10, 2018

For this week’s elections, Democrats spent considerable resources attacking Republicans for trying to tamper with Affordable Care Act rules that require insurers to cover preexisting conditions. Now that voters have handed Democrats control of the House, ObamaCare supporters claim the election confirms what nearly every public opinion poll finds: The ACA’s preexisting-conditions provisions are popular with voters.

By Michael F. Cannon
New York Post


George Soros gave $1M to group that paid for Fusion GPS research

November 1, 2018

Democratic billionaire George Soros has given $1 million to a group which has paid for research from Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the infamous Trump dossier.

The money was given to the Democracy Integrity Project, according to a Soros representative who spoke to the New York Times. Soros is mulling donating even more.

The $1 million figure appears to be newly revealed information. It was reported earlier this year by the Washington Post that Soros had given a grant to the nonprofit group.

Image result for George Soros, photos

George Soros

The Democracy Integrity Project was created after the 2016 election and is dedicated to investigating election interference.

Fusion GPS is known for commissioning ex-British spy Christopher Steele to compile opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Published in full by BuzzFeed in January 2017, the dossier contains a collection of salacious and unverified claims about Trump’s potentially compromising ties to Russia.

Soros’ fundraising efforts have made him a favorite target of Republicans claiming he is a secret force seeking to influence politics, among other conspiracy theories.

GOP investigators are concerned about potential surveillance abuse by the government, as the FBI used Steele’s salacious dossier, which was funded in part by Democratic interests, in multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications to gain the authority to spy on onetime Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Khashoggi fiancee speaks out — Demands justice, sincere efforts to solve case

October 27, 2018

The Turkish fiancee of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said on Friday called for all those responsible for his murder to be brought to justice.

“I demand that all those involved in this savagery from the highest to the lowest levels are punished and brought to justice,” Hatice Cengiz told the Haber Türk television station.

She also said she did not accept U.S. President Donald Trump’s invitation to visit the White House because she thought it was aimed at influencing public opinion in his favor.

Image result for Hatice Cengiz, photos

Cengiz said she would not go to the White House until the United States was sincere in its efforts to solve Khashoggi’s killing, demanding that all those responsible be tried and punished.

She said Khashoggi had assumed Saudi authorities would not give him problems or arrest him in Turkey, though he was concerned tensions would arise when he visited the consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi did not want to go to the Saudi consulate, she said.

The murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident, has spiraled into a crisis for Saudi Arabia and its powerful young ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

International pressure has increased on the Saudi leadership to come clean on the case, after Riyadh shifted its official explanation a number of times. In its latest version, the Saudi public prosecutor said the killing was premeditated, reversing an earlier statement that Khashoggi was killed accidentally in a fight at the consulate

“His local network in Turkey was very good as you know, his political network as well,” Cengiz told Habertürk. “He thought Turkey is a safe country and if he would be held or interrogated, this issue would be swiftly solved.”

Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2 after entering the consulate to obtain a document that would allow him to remarry.

He was treated well during his first visit to the consulate on Sept. 28, Cengiz also told Habertürk.

Erdoğan urged Saudi Arabia on Friday to disclose who ordered Khashoggi’s murder, as well as the location of his body, heightening international pressure on the kingdom to come clean on the case.

Washington Post: Conservatives mount a whisper campaign smearing Khashoggi in defense of Trump

October 19, 2018

Hard-line Republicans and conservative commentators are mounting a whispering campaign against Jamal Khashoggi that is designed to protect President Trump from criticism of his handling of the dissident journalist’s alleged murder by operatives of Saudi Arabia — and support Trump’s continued aversion to a forceful response to the oil-rich desert kingdom.

In recent days, a cadre of conservative House Republicans allied with Trump has been privately exchanging articles from right-wing outlets that fuel suspicion of Khashoggi, highlighting his association with the Muslim Brotherhood in his youth and raising conspiratorial questions about his work decades ago as an embedded reporter covering Osama bin Laden, according to four GOP officials involved in the discussions who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Those aspersions — which many lawmakers have been wary of stating publicly because of the political risks of doing so — have begun to flare into public view as conservative media outlets have amplified the claims, which are aimed in part at protecting Trump as he works to preserve the U.S.-Saudi relationship and avoid confronting the Saudis on human rights.

By Robert Costa Karoun Demirjian

Washington Post

President Trump tells reporters at Joint Base Andrews on Thursday that it appears journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Trump’s remarks about reporters amid the Khashoggi fallout have inflamed existing tensions between his allies and the media. At a Thursday rally in Montana, Trump openly praised Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) for assaulting a reporter in his bid for Congress last year.

“Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” Trump said.

Hours earlier, prominent conservative television personalities were making insinuations about Khashoggi’s background.

Michael Beer holds a poster during a rally about the disappearance of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Embassy of Saudi Arabia on Wednesday. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

“Khashoggi was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood,” Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner asserted on Thursday’s highly rated “Outnumbered” show. “I just put it out there because it is in the constellation of things that are being talked about.” Faulkner then dismissed another guest who called her claim “iffy.”

The message was echoed on the campaign trail. Virginia Republican Corey A. Stewart, who is challenging Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), told a local radio program Thursday that “Khashoggi was not a good guy himself.”

While Khashoggi was once sympathetic to Islamist movements, he moved toward a more liberal, secular point of view, according to experts on the Middle East who have tracked his career. Khashoggi knew bin Laden in the 1980s and 1990s during the civil war in Afghanistan, but his interactions with bin Laden were as a journalist with a point of view who was working with a prized source.

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen, left his home country last year and was granted residency in the United States by federal authorities. He lived in Virginia and wrote for The Washington Post.

Nevertheless, the smears have escalated. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son and key political booster, shared another person’s tweet last week with his millions of followers that included a line that Khashoggi was “tooling around Afghanistan with Osama bin Laden” in the 1980s, even though the context was a feature story on bin Laden’s activities.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Leah Mills/AP)

A Tuesday broadcast of CR-TV, a conservative online outlet founded by populartalk-radio host Mark Levin, labeled Khashoggi a “longtime friend” of terrorists and claimed without evidence that Trump was the victim of an “insane” media conspiracy to tarnish him. The broadcast has been viewed more than 12,000 times.

story in far-right FrontPage magazine casts Khashoggi as a “cynical and manipulative apologist for Islamic terrorism, not the mythical martyred dissident whose disappearance the media has spent the worst part of a week raving about,” and features a garish cartoon of bin Laden and Khashoggi with their arms around each other.

The conservative push comes as Saudi government supporters on Twitter have sought in a propaganda campaign to denigrate Khashoggi as a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement once tolerated but now outlawed in Saudi Arabia as a terrorist organization.

“Trump wants to take a soft line, so Trump supporters are finding excuses for him to take it,” said William Kristol, a conservative Trump critic. “One of those excuses is attacking the person who was murdered.”

Several Trump administration aides are aware of the Khashoggi attacks circulating on Capitol Hill and in conservative media, the GOP officials said, adding that aides are being careful to not encourage the disparagement but are also doing little to contest it.

The GOP officials declined to share the names of the lawmakers and others who are circulating information critical of Khashoggi because they said doing so would risk exposing them as sources.

Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor who published Khashoggi’s work, sharply criticized the false and distorted claims about Khashoggi, who is feared to have been killed and dismembered by Saudi operatives.

“As anyone knows who knew Jamal — or read his columns — he was dedicated to the values of free speech and open debate. He went into exile to promote those values, and now he may even have lost his life for his dogged determination in their defense,” Hiatt said in a statement. “It may not be surprising that some Saudi-inspired trolls are now trying to distract us from the crime by smearing Jamal. It may not even be surprising to see a few Americans joining in. But in both cases it is reprehensible.”

Trump said Thursday it appears Khashoggi is dead and warned that his administration could consider “very severe” measures against Saudi Arabia, which is conducting its own self-investigation. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also announced that he would not attend the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia next week, delivering the Trump administration’s first formal rebuke of Saudi Arabia’s royal family.

“The president is concerned. He believes the relationship is important, so do I, but he also understands he’s a leader on the world stage and everybody is watching and he is very concerned,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who met with Trump on Thursday.

Trump, whose grip on his party remains strong less than three weeks before the midterm elections, has seen his cautious approach to Saudi Arabia bolstered not only by the maligning of Khashoggi, but also by a conservative media infrastructure that is generally wary of traditional news organizations and establishment Republicans. As criticism of Trump grows, powerful players in that orbit have stood by the president.

“Donald Trump is keeping his eye on the ball, keeping his eye on the geopolitical ball, the national security ball. He’s not going to get sidetracked by what happened to a journalist, maybe, in the consulate there. He’s not giving cover to anybody,” syndicated talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday.

“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people are key allies,” evangelical leader Pat Robertson said this week. “We’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of. . . . It’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”

Some Republicans on Capitol Hill, on the other hand, are discussing the possibility of legislative action against Saudi Arabia or other ways to lessen U.S. support.

Intelligence community officials this week have been providing continuous briefings on the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance to the intelligence committees, whose members enjoy special clearance to view and hear sensitive information.

But in both the House and Senate, lawmakers without such clearance, including the leading Republicans on foreign policy matters, have grown frustrated with what many see as a deliberate attempt by the Trump administration to slow-walk responses to congressional requests for information about Khashoggi’s disappearance, or in some cases ignore lawmakers’ questions outright.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) have taken the step of invoking the Global Magnitsky Act to force Trump to report to Congress on whether people should face sanctions over Khashoggi’s alleged death, including Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Yet there has been little confidence among senators that Trump will suddenly feel pressure to penalize high-ranking Saudi officials or take other sweeping punitive measures.

In the House, a perceived lack of cooperation from the White House on Khashoggi has compelled some Republicans to take new interest in a bill to invoke the War Powers Resolution to curtail U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition operating in Yemen’s civil war. But the legislation has not secured the support of leading Republicans.

Last year, the House voted 366 to 30 to approve a nonbinding resolution stating that the United States’ support for the Saudi-led coalition had not been congressionally authorized — an effort that did not rattle the administration, which continued to build its relationships with Saudi royalty.

Earlier this year, the Senate failed to enact legislation that would have curtailed U.S. support for the Saudi war effort, after appeals from Saudi officials and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis not to pass the measure.

Trump demands to see Khashoggi ‘murder’ proof amid reports of recording

October 18, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he did not want to abandon close ally Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of a Saudi journalist and government critic, and he needed to see evidence to prove Turkish claims he was killed by Saudi agents.

Trump said he was waiting for a full report on what had happened to Jamal Khashoggi from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom he sent to Saudi Arabia and Turkey to meet with officials over the disappearance.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was critical of the authoritarian kingdom’s Crown Prince Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 and his body removed. The Saudis have denied the allegations.

Image result for Jamal Khashoggi, photos

Turkish sources have told Reuters the authorities have an audio recording indicating Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate. He has not been seen since entering the building.

Turkey’s pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper on Wednesday published what it said were details from audio recordings that purported to document Khashoggi’s torture and interrogation.

Khashoggi was killed within minutes and his torturers severed his fingers during the interrogation, the newspaper said. His killers later beheaded and dismembered him, it said.

Turkey has not shared with the U.S. government or European allies graphic audio or video evidence, seven U.S. and European security officials told Reuters.

The United States and allies have collected some intelligence through their own sources and methods, which partly confirms news reports based on leaks of audio recordings, four of the sources said.

A New York Times report cited a senior Turkish official confirming the details published by Yeni Safak.

Two Turkish government officials contacted by Reuters declined to confirm the report.

Trump, who has forged closer ties with Saudi Arabia and the 33-year-old crown prince, said the United States has asked Turkey for any audio or video evidence.

Asked in a Fox Business Network interview if Washington could abandon Riyadh, Trump said: “I do not want to do that.” Trump reiterated his hopes that Saudi leaders were not involved in his disappearance of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident.


“We have asked for it, if it exists … I’m not sure yet that it exists, probably does, possibly does,” he later told reporters when asked about audio or video evidence.

U.S. media outlets have reported that Riyadh, despite its earlier denials of involvement, will acknowledge he was killed in a botched interrogation.

Trump has speculated without providing evidence that “rogue killers” could be responsible.

How the crown prince emerges from the crisis is a test of how the West will deal with Saudi Arabia in the future.

Trump has appeared unwilling to distance himself too much from the Saudis, citing Riyadh’s role in countering Iranian influence in the region – and tens of billions of dollars in potential arms deals.

Other Western nations, although expressing concern about the incident, face a similar delicate situation in their dealings with the world’s top oil exporter.

Important ties

Pompeo meanwhile said Riyadh should be given a few more days to complete its own probe into Khashoggi’s disappearance. He met Turkey’s president and foreign minister, a day after Trump gave Saudi Arabia the benefit of the doubt.

“They’re going to do an investigation, and when the investigation comes out we’ll evaluate it,” Pompeo told reporters travelling with him.

A State Department spokeswoman said Pompeo had not heard any audio recording purporting to indicate Khashoggi was killed.

Pompeo also said the United States must be mindful of important business and government ties with Saudi Arabia as it considers any steps once the facts have been determined.

Turkish investigators entered the Saudi consul’s residence on Wednesday after delays.

Their search included the roof and garage, and the deployment of a drone over the premises. The consul-general had left Turkey for Riyadh on Tuesday.

A pro-government Turkish daily published preliminary evidence last week from investigators who it said had identified a 15-member Saudi intelligence team that arrived in Istanbul on diplomatic passports hours before Khashoggi disappeared.

A New York Times report, citing witnesses and other records, linked four suspects to Prince Mohammed’s security detail.

One name matches a LinkedIn profile for a forensic expert who has worked at the interior ministry for 20 years. Another is identified in a diplomatic directory from 2007 as a first secretary at the Saudi Embassy in London.

Others resemble officers in the Saudi Army and Air Force. After his meetings with the king and crown prince on Tuesday, Pompeo said Saudi Arabia has committed to conducting a full investigation.

Asked whether they said Khashoggi was alive or dead, Pompeo said: “They didn’t talk about any of the facts.”

Deserted conference

Prince Mohammed has painted himself as the face of a new, vibrant Saudi Arabia, diversifying its economy away from reliance on oil and making some social changes.

But there has been criticism of some of his moves, including Riyadh’s involvement in the Yemen war, the arrest of women activists, and a diplomatic row with Canada.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his plans to attend an investment conference in Riyadh next week would be revisited on Thursday after U.S. officials have a chance to consult Pompeo.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and top executives from Societe Generale and Glencore joined a growing list of executives who have pulled out.

Saudi Arabia has said it would retaliate against any pressure or economic sanctions.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, met his Saudi counterpart on Wednesday for previously scheduled talks, according to a U.S. military readout that made no mention of Khashoggi.


Trump says US has asked for Khashoggi tapes

October 18, 2018

But US president says he does not want to walk away from Saudi Arabia US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, left, with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday

By Katrina Manson in Washington, and Laura Pitel and Ayla Jean Yackley in Ankara

Donald Trump said the US had asked for a recording of Jamal Khashoggi’s purported killing “if it exists”, but stressed that Washington did not want to walk away from Saudi Arabia as it comes under mounting pressure over the case.

Image result for Jamal Khashoggi, photos

Jamal Khashoggi

Asked if the US had requested video or audio evidence of Mr Khashoggi’s death, Mr Trump said on Wednesday: “We have asked for it, if it exists. We have asked.”

He was speaking as Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, returned from a trip to Turkey and Saudi Arabia that highlighted the US’s desire to balance concern over Mr Khashoggi with a desire to preserve economic and security ties to Saudi Arabia. In a separate interview with Fox Business Network, the US president said: “We need Saudi Arabia in terms of our fight against all of the terrorism, everything that’s happening in Iran.”

Asked if the US would walk away from the kingdom, he said: “No I don’t want to do that, I don’t want to do that.”

The president said he was waiting for a briefing from Mr Pompeo, who met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, as well as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Referring to Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance, Mr Trump said: “I hope that the King and the Crown Prince didn’t know about it, that’s a big factor in my eyes.”

But he denied he was giving cover to Saudi Arabia, telling reporters later in the Oval Office: “I want to find out what happened.” Mr Pompeo had reiterated the US’s willingness to aid a probe into the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi as lurid new claims emerged about the Saudi journalist’s fate.

US officials said they expected Saudi Arabia to soon announce publicly that Mr Khashoggi was killed. Riyadh under pressure over Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance “Sooner is better than later, yes, for everyone,” Mr Pompeo said. He said there “had been a couple of delays” in preparing the report, but that the Turks said the Saudis had co-operated with their investigation and “seemed pretty confident that the Saudis would allow them to do the things they need to do”.

Mr Khashoggi has not been seen since entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Turkish officials have used a series of leaks to Turkish and international media to allege that Mr Khashoggi, 59, was killed at the consulate by a 15-man hit squad after arranging an appointment to collect papers for his forthcoming marriage.

The pro-government newspaper, Sabah, published the names and photographs of a team of people which allegedly flew into Istanbul on two private jets on the day of the journalist’s disappearance, before leaving the same day. The names were confirmed as accurate by a Turkish official.

The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday cited Turkish officials as saying that they had shared evidence, including details of an audio recording that backed up their claims that Mr Khashoggi was killed and his body dismembered by a Saudi hit squad. The newspaper said the recording indicated that Mr Khashoggi was killed in the office of the consul-general within minutes of entering the diplomatic mission on October 2.

It said he was not interrogated — a claim that would directly contradict claims of a questioning that went wrong. The report cited people familiar with the recording as saying that a voice could be heard inviting the consul to leave the room before a man identified as a Saudi forensic specialist, Salah Al Tabiqi, could be heard recommending those present to listen to music while he dismembered Mr Khashoggi’s body.

Before boarding his plane to Ankara from Saudi Arabia, Mr Pompeo said that he had stressed the “importance of [the Saudis] conducting a complete investigation into the disappearance”. He declined to discuss what the Saudis had told him about Mr Khashoggi’s fate.

“I don’t want to talk about any of the facts. They didn’t want to either and that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way,” Mr Pompeo said. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said that investigators searched the Saudi consul general’s residence on Wednesday after a delay. Earlier this week, a search was performed at the consulate building. Mr Erdogan said that investigators had searched for “toxic” materials and suggested that some evidence had been covered up by painting over it.

Saudi Arabia initially insisted that Mr Khashoggi had left the consulate building safely. But this week it emerged that the Gulf kingdom was considering changing its stance to say that the journalist died in a botched interrogation by rogue operatives. Recommended The future of dealmaking with Saudi Arabia Mr Trump has appeared receptive to such claims, voicing the idea that “rogue” killers could be responsible.

On Tuesday, he used an interview with Associated Press to warn of the dangers of rushing to judgment. He compared the case to the treatment received by Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court justice accused of sexual assault. “We have to find out what happened first,” Mr Trump said.

“Here we go again with . . . 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.” Such comments have stoked concern among friends and supporters of Mr Khashoggi that Mr Trump might be willing to let Saudi Arabia off the hook.

The Gulf kingdom is widely seen as the US’s most important Arab ally in the Middle East. Mr Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner have fostered close ties with the country’s rulers. In response to Mr Khashoggi’s disappearance, more than a dozen high-profile international executives have withdrawn from a large investment forum in Riyadh next week organised by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund.

On Wednesday, G7 foreign ministers issued a joint statement urging Saudi Arabia to conduct a “a thorough, credible, transparent, and prompt investigation”. The group of ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US as well as a representative from the EU said that they were “very troubled by the disappearance of Mr Khashoggi”. The statement added: “Those bearing responsibility for his disappearance must be held to account.”

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, has also deferred a visit to the Middle East that was to include the conference in Riyadh.

Additional reporting by Demetri Sevastopulo in Washington

Washington Post publishes final Khashoggi column warning of media intimidation

October 18, 2018

In op-ed written just before he went missing, dissident Saudi writer warns Mideast governments ‘have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate’

In this January 29, 2011, photo, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

In this January 29, 2011, photo, Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Post has published a new column by missing Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in which he warns that governments in the Middle East “have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.”

The Post published the column Wednesday, more than two weeks after Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and only hours after a gruesome account in Turkey’s Yeni Safak newspaper alleged that Saudi officials cut off Khashoggi’s fingers and then decapitated him inside the consulate while his fiancee waited outside. The Saudi government, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has denied any involvement.

In a note affixed to the top of the column, Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah said she received the essay from Khashoggi’s translator and assistant a day after he was reported missing. Khashoggi first began writing for the Post’s opinion section in September 2017, and his columns criticized the prince and the direction of the Saudi kingdom.

In the op-ed, titled “Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression,” Khashoggi recounted the imprisonment of a prominent writer who spoke against the Saudi establishment, and cited an incident in which the Egyptian government seized control of a newspaper.

“These actions no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community. Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation quickly followed by silence,” he wrote.

“As a result, Arab governments have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate,” Khashoggi wrote.

US President Donald Trump, who initially came out hard on the Saudis over the disappearance but since has backed off, said Wednesday that the US wanted Turkey to turn over any audio or video recording it had of Khashoggi’s alleged killing “if it exists.” He has recently suggested that the global community had jumped to conclusions that Saudi Arabia was behind Khashoggi’s disappearance.

In the column, Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who went into self-imposed exile in the US over the rise of the crown prince, also discussed the practice of Middle Eastern governments blocking internet access to control tightly the information their citizens can see.

“The Arab world is facing its own version of an Iron Curtain, imposed not by external actors but through domestic forces vying for power,” Khashoggi wrote.

He praised the Post for translating many of his columns from English into Arabic and said it’s important for Middle Easterners to be able to read about democracy in the West. He also said it’s critical that Arab voices have a platform on which to be heard.

“We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education,” Khashoggi wrote. “Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.”

The Post initially held off on publishing the column amid hope for Khashoggi’s return, Attiah said. But, she wrote, “Now I have to accept: That is not going to happen.”

She ended her note: “This column perfectly captures his commitment and passion for freedom in the Arab world. A freedom he apparently gave his life for. I will be forever grateful he chose The Post as his final journalistic home one year ago and gave us the chance to work together.”

Death of Jamal Khashoggi — Middle East Eye reveals gruesome details

October 17, 2018

It took seven minutes for Jamal Khashoggi to die, a Turkish source who has listened in full to an audio recording of the Saudi journalist’s last moments told Middle East Eye.

Khashoggi was dragged from the Consul General’s office at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and onto the table of his study next door, the Turkish source said.

Image result for Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, photos

Horrendous screams were then heard by a witness downstairs, the source said.

“The consul himself was taken out of the room. There was no attempt to interrogate him. They had come to kill him,” the source told MEE.

The screaming stopped when Khashoggi – who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate on 2 October – was injected with an as yet unknown substance.

Salah Muhammad al-Tubaigy, who has been identified as the head of forensic evidence in the Saudi general security department, was one of the 15-member squad who arrived in Ankara earlier that day on a private jet.

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Tubaigy began to cut Khashoggi’s body up on a table in the study while he was still alive, the Turkish source said.

The killing took seven minutes, the source said.

As he started to dismember the body, Tubaigy put on earphones and listened to music. He advised other members of the squad to do the same.

“When I do this job, I listen to music. You should do [that] too,” Tubaigy was recorded as saying, the source told MEE.

A three-minute version of the audio tape has been given to Turkish newspaper Sabah, but they have yet to release it.

A Turkish source told the New York Times that Tubaigy was equipped with a bone saw. He is listed as the president of the Saudi Fellowship of Forensic Pathology and a member of the Saudi Association for Forensic Pathology.

In 2014, London-based Saudi newspaper Asharaq al-Awsat interviewed Tubaigy about a mobile clinic that allows coroners to perform autopsies in seven minutes to determine the cause of death of Hajj pilgrims.

The newspaper reported that the mobile clinic was partly designed by Tubaigy and could be used in “security cases that requires pathologist intervention to perform an autopsy or examine a body at the place of a crime”.

These are the first details to emerge of the Saudi journalist’s killing. Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October to retrieve paperwork.

To date, Saudi officials have strongly denied any involvement in his disappearance and say that he left the consulate soon after arriving. However, they have not presented any evidence to corroborate their claim and say that video cameras at the consulate were not recording at the time.

Calls for credible investigation grow louder

On Tuesday, both Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, came out in support of Saudi officials’ denials they know anything about what happened to Khashoggi.

Trump tweeted that he spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who “totally denied any knowledge of what took place” in Istanbul. Trump said MBS told him “that he has already started, and will rapidly expand, a full and complete investigation into this matter”.

On Monday, CNN reported that Saudi Arabia was preparing to release a report that would blame Khashoggi’s death on a botched interrogation.

That would be a sharp reversal of earlier statements in which Saudi officials said they had nothing to do with the journalist’s disappearance and said he left the Saudi consulate minutes after he first arrived on 2 October.


Top White House officials express support for Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi

Khashoggi, a prominent journalist and columnist for the Washington Post, had been living in self-imposed exile in Washington, DC, when he disappeared.

On Tuesday, Washington Post publisher and CEO Fred Ryan called for a “full and honest explanation” of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

“The Saudi government can no longer remain silent, and it is essential that our own government and others push harder for the truth,” Ryan said in a statement. “Until we have a full account and full accountability, it cannot be business as usual with the Saudi government.”

The United Nations human rights chief also called for immunity to be lifted for officials who might be involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Due to the seriousness of the case, the immunity generally accorded to diplomats “should be waived immediately”, Michelle Bachelet said.