Audio recording emerges of 'murder' of Saudi journalist

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"If it exists we have asked for it", Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.

"I think we have to find out what happened first", Trump told the Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday.

A team of Turkish police spent more than nine hours in the consulate on October 15 and October 16 and the Associated Press reported that they found "certain evidence" about the killing of the prominent Saudi dissident. Earlier Wednesday, he told Fox Business that the USA relies on the kingdom in the fight against terrorism.

"No, not at all", he declared.

Khashoggi, a former regime insider who became critical of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, wrote articles for titles including the Washington Post.

Pro-government Turkish daily Yeni Safak reported it had heard audio recordings of Khashoggi being tortured during an interrogation, having his fingers cut off and then decapitated.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Tuesday the USA should "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia" over the incident and said he would never again work with the crown prince, assailing him as "toxic" and calling him a "wrecking ball".

Flying back home after a visit to both Saudi Arabia and Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remained positive about an ongoing Saudi probe into Khashoggi's disappearance, but he stressed that answers are needed.

The US chief diplomat pointedly refused to blame the kingdom and declared he did not want "to talk about any of the facts".

"Do this outside. You will put me in trouble", he said in the now public recording. I don't like that. Trump appeared willing to resist the pressure to follow suit, accepting Saudi denials and their pledge to investigate.

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One of the suspects, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, has close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as photographs show him disembarking from airplanes with the crown prince in Madrid and Paris, according to the The New York Times.

"Pompeo said the leadership "strongly denied any knowledge" of what happened in the consulate".

The suspects' direct links to the Saudi establishment weakens the suggestion made by Trump that the hit could have been carried out by "rogue killers" in an unauthorised operation. The president told the AP on Tuesday that that description was informed by his "feeling" from his conversation with Salman and that the king did not use the term.

Otaibi left Istanbul on Tuesday for Riyadh ahead of a planned search of his residence as part of the official Turkish investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance.

Russia's foreign minister previously said he welcomed the agreement between Turkey and Saudi Arabia to hold a joint investigation into the case.

"This guy has got to go", Graham, R-S.C., said on "Fox and Friends". "Saudi Arabia, if you're listening, there are a lot of good people you can choose, but MBS has tainted your country and tainted himself".

He added that the United States must be mindful of the important business and government ties with the Kingdom, once the facts of the case have been determined.

US President Donald Trump, who earlier warned of "severe punishment" if the kingdom was found culpable, criticised the allegations against Saudi Arabia and compared them to the accusations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh during his Supremne Court confirmation hearing.

"If a country engages in activity that is unlawful it's unacceptable", he said.

He vanished after entering the consulate for official documents for his wedding to his Turkish fiancée. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Saudi officials had halted the earlier search, claiming that Consul General Mohammed al-Otaibi's family was still there.

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