President Trump on Thursday said it “certainly looks” like missing activist and writer Jamal Khashoggi is dead. Khashoggi’s whereabouts were unknown after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Turkey on Oct 2.
The president didn't elaborate on his conclusion but he said the consequences for Saudi Arabia "will have to be very severe" if they are ultimately found responsible for Khashoggi's death.
His remarks came as he was set to depart Joint Base Andrews for a campaign rally in Montana.
When asked if Khashoggi was dead, Trump replied: "It certainly looks that way. Very sad."
Khashoggi, who had written critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for The Washington Post, disappeared two weeks ago during a visit to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials said they feared he was killed and dismembered inside the consulate.
The Saudis have denied the allegations, calling them “baseless." During a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier this week, Saudi leaders -- including King Salman and the crown prince -- "strongly denied any knowledge of what took place in their consulate in Istanbul," Pompeo said.
Also on Thursday, Pompeo told reporters that he suggested that Trump allow Saudi officials more time to complete an investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.
“I told President Trump this morning that we ought to give them a few more days to complete that so we can get a complete understanding (of) the facts surrounding that, at which point we can make a decision about how the United States should respond to the issues surrounding Mr. Khashoggi,” Pompeo said.
Trump's remarks come after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Twitter that he would not be attending a conference in Saudi Arabia later this month.
“Just met with @realDonaldTrump and @SecPompeo and we have decided, I will not be participating in the Future Investment Initiative summit in Saudi Arabia,” Mnuchin tweeted.
Fox News' Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.