In a starting development from The New York Times, leaders from Saudi Arabia are preparing a report announcing that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died while in custody of the Saudi government.
On October 2, a day before his wedding, Khashoggi was seen on video walking into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve a document finalizing the dissolution of his previous marriage. That was the last time he was seen and there is no footage of him leaving the consulate, though--until now--Saudi officials said he had left safely. Many are concerned that he was ordered dead by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, of whom Khashoggi was an immense critic.
After a conversation with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, President Donald Trump suggested that "rogue killers" could be responsible, rather than Saudi officials:
"The king firmly denied any knowledge of it. He didn't really know, maybe - I don't want to get into his mind but it sounded to me - maybe these could have been rogue killers. Who knows?"
This narrative seemed to match the one Saudi leaders planput forth, according to the Times:
But he said the royal court would soon put out a narrative that an official within the kingdom’s intelligence services — who happened to be a friend of Prince Mohammed — had carried out the killing. The person said Prince Mohammed had approved an interrogation or rendition of Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia. But, he said, the Saudi intelligence official was tragically incompetent as he eagerly sought to prove himself in secretive operations.
Essentially, Saudi leaders are planning to say that a Saudi official got carried away and murdered Khashoggi in his devotion to Prince Mohammed, or rather the official went rogue.
But many Americans are dismissing this as a possibility.
Trump's "Rogue Killer" Theory Rogue killer entered secure consulate No security report or call for help #Khashoggi… https://t.co/ccuvoPWy0q— Care for Earth. There is no escape plan. (@Care for Earth. There is no escape plan.)1539622086.0
Can @realDonaldTrump explain how ‘rogue killers’ got inside of a Saudi embassy? I’m pretty sure the Saudi embassy h… https://t.co/8BEK33wMOP— Olga Lautman (@Olga Lautman)1539615547.0
This is infuriating and embarrassing. Rogue killers are not roaming the Saudi embassy, the fact that Trump is wil… https://t.co/wqMcZWSIIo— The Reagan Battalion (@The Reagan Battalion)1539617055.0
Maybe "rogue killers" murdered millions of Jews in the Holocaust. Who knows? - Trump, next month.— Steve Silberman (@Steve Silberman)1539617739.0
Some are also suspicious at the similarity of the two statements.One of those who isn't buying the Saudi government's explanation is Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Been hearing the ridiculous “rogue killers” theory was where the Saudis would go with this. Absolutely extaordinary… https://t.co/qcaHu2sTNe— Chris Murphy (@Chris Murphy)1539613435.0
Others think the two statements might have been in cahoots.
Sure sounds like Trump and Salman cooked up this plan to blame "rogue killers" (note that Trump realizes only belat… https://t.co/BxyHArDEIw— Seth Abramson (@Seth Abramson)1539633922.0
.@RNicholasBurns: If Pres Trump got the term 'rogue actors' or 'rogue killers' from Saudi Arabia this morning, that… https://t.co/i16LyUvMGC— Andrea Mitchell (@Andrea Mitchell)1539619912.0
More from Ward and Lister's @CNN report: "One source says the report will likely conclude that the operation was ca… https://t.co/XKdxfgWgcW— Brian Stelter (@Brian Stelter)1539630603.0
The President's relationship with Saudi Arabia has been under intense scrutiny after Khashoggi's disappearance. Trump's businesses have enjoyed millions of dollars of revenue from the wallets of Saudi officials, with Trump saying at a campaign rally in 2015:
"I get along great with all of them.They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much!"
Many have assumed that Trump's lack of action in regards to Khashoggi's disappearance may have something to do with these business connections.
Americans won't know more until the report is complete, but the whispers are foreboding for Khashoggi, journalism, and Americans.