President Trump on Friday rejected as "fake news" a press report that claimed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo heard a recording related to the disappearance of dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was never given or shown a Transcript or Video of the Saudi Consulate event. FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted Friday.
[For complete Khashoggi coverage, click here]
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was never given or shown a Transcript or Video of the Saudi Consulate event. FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 19, 2018
The president was referencing a report from ABC News, which cited a senior Turkish official who said Pompeo heard the audio recording of Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
[Recordings: Jamal Khashoggi's fingers cut off, then beheaded, dismembered]
The Turkish official told ABC News the secretary of state was also given a transcript of the recordings. But the State Department denied the report.
“Secretary Pompeo has neither heard a tape nor has he seen a transcript related to Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate more than two weeks ago. Turkish officials say he was killed and dismembered by Saudi agents.
The Turkish government reportedly has audio and video recordings that prove Khashoggi was beaten and murdered inside the consulate by Saudi operatives, some of whom allegedly have ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
But the Saudi government has denied having any involvement.
Trump said Wednesday the U.S. has asked for the recording “if it exists.”
Pompeo traveled to Turkey and Saudi Arabia this week to learn more about Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Trump told reporters Thursday he believes the journalist is likely dead, but said he would wait until an investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance is completed before deciding on possible retaliatory action. But Trump said consequences would be “very severe.”