President Donald Trump said $450 billion in investments are at stake as Congress raises pressure on him to punish Saudi Arabia for the presumed death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and he promised to involve lawmakers in any U.S. response.
Sanctions “could be considered,” he said.
Trump has previously said he opposes canceling what he says is a $110 billion deal for U.S. weaponry the Saudis intend to buy. But he cited a figure four times that in remarks on Thursday, apparently assigning a specific price tag to a package of vague deals and commitments signed with the Saudis when Trump traveled to Riyadh in May 2017, including some of the weapons purchases.
“Saudi Arabia has been a great ally of ours. That’s why this is so sad,” Trump told reporters in Scottsdale, Arizona, after signing a memorandum on Western water rights.
Saudi Arabia’s leaders have promised the U.S. to reveal within days what happened to Khashoggi, who lived in the U.S. and wrote for the Washington Post, after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul Oct. 2 to retrieve a document for his wedding. He hasn’t been seen since.
Turkish officials say the journalist was ambushed by Saudi agents, murdered and dismembered. The Saudis have only said he left their consulate unharmed, without providing any evidence for a claim that appears more implausible with each passing day.
“We’re going to know over the next two or three days,” Trump said. “I might know a lot by Monday.”
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