Trump calls Khashoggi murder 'worst cover-up in history'

A portrait of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is displayed in Riyadh on Monday one day ahead of the Future Investment Initiative. — AFP

A portrait of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman is displayed in Riyadh on Monday one day ahead of the Future Investment Initiative. — AFP

Asked by a reporter in the White House how the Khashoggi killing could have happened, Trump said on Tuesday: "They had a very bad original concept". "And the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups". "I think it's a very important ally for us". "Somebody really messed up", he said.

After weeks of denial, Saudi Arabia at the weekend said the journalist had been killed at the consulate. The Saudi story has shifted drastically since Khashoggi was last seen entering the consulate on October 2; the official line is now that he was accidentally killed when a discussion with officials turned into a brawl.

But Turkish officials have maintained from the start that Khashoggi's death was "violently planned" ahead of time, carried out by a team of Saudi operatives dispatched to Istanbul, and subsequently covered up.

Turkey's president says the latest Saudi explanation of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death doesn't wash-and he's demanding answers.

Erdogan on Tuesday publicly challenged Saudi explanations and declared the killing a "ferocious" premeditated murder, demanding that Saudi Arabia hold accountable those responsible.

"I know that from a certain standpoint, you can also say, well, it doesn't matter, because it is a awful thing".

The United States has also vowed to revoke visas of some of those believed to be responsible.

"We're making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this ruthless action to silence Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence", he said. "Neither the president or I am happy with this situation".

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said he wants Saudi Arabia to allow 18 suspects that it detained for the Saudi's killing to be tried in Turkish courts, setting up further complications with the Saudi government, which has said it is conducting its own investigation and will punish those involved.

CIA Director Gina Haspel is now in Turkey and is expected to return Wednesday.

He added that he wants to see the facts of a US investigation first before making any judgment. "To cover up such savagery would hurt the human conscience", he said.

Portman said these next steps on Saudi Arabia will be dependent on a "real investigation" of what happened.

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have received the family of killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi and expressed their condolences. "It was a lower level", Trump said the prince told him.

Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the G20 opening ceremony on September 4, 2016, in Hangzhou, China.

"I went to Saudi Arabia on the basis that they would buy hundreds of billions- many billions of dollars worth of things".

Erdogan on Tuesday also accused Saudi officials of planning the killing days before Khashoggi entered the Saudi Consulate and said the whereabouts of Khashoggi's body were still unknown.

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