ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday ripped Saudi Arabia's effort to conceal the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
"They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly, and the coverup was one of the worst in the history of coverups," Trump told reporters at the White House.
"Whoever thought of that idea I think is in big trouble, and they should be in big trouble."
Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He was never seen exiting the diplomatic facility.
After denying knowledge of Khashoggi's whereabouts for more than two weeks, Saudi Arabia on Saturday said he was killed during a brawl inside the diplomatic facility.
But Khashoggi's body has not been recovered, and Riyadh has yet to explain its shifting narrative on what transpired.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier Tuesday laid out his country’s initial findings in its investigation, saying Khashoggi's murder was "premeditated".
Erdogan said all information and evidence that has been uncovered showed Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal murder.
Saudi teams explored Istanbul's Belgrad Forest and the northwestern province of Yalova before murdering Khashoggi, Erdogan said.
Trump said Erdogan was "pretty rough on Saudi Arabia" during his comments, noting that the U.S. has intelligence officials in both Saudi Arabia and Turkey working on the Khashoggi case.
CIA Director Gina Haspel is among them as she works to comb through the facts in Turkey.
"They are heading back. I will know, I think, everything in a very short period of time," Trump said. "It's a bad situation. But certainly President Erdogan was not complimentary about what happened. That was a terrible thing that happened."