President Donald Trump revealed that First Lady Melania Trump has joined the effort to 'get to the bottom' of what happened to missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz wrote an op-ed imploring Trump and the first lady to help, and has written a letter to the White House has gotten the pair's attention.
'It's a very sad situation, it's a very bad situation is, and we want to get to the bottom of it,' Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
'And we cannot let this happen. To reporters, to anybody. We can't let this happen,' Trump said.
'We're demanding everything,' Trump said, asked if his team was seeking information from the Saudis – longtime allies who the Trump administration has hugged closely. Trump brought Kushner their in his first foreign visit as president, won Saudi support for his push to leave the Iran deal, pushed for low oil prices.
'We want to see what's going on. It´s a very serious situation for us and for this White House ... We want to get to the bottom of it.'
'I would certainly concerned,' he said. 'In fact we have a call in to his wife, in fact his wife wrote a letter addressed to my wife and myself and we're in contact with her now and we want to bring her to the White House.' Trump was referring to Khashoggi's fancee.
She had been waiting outside the consulate when her Khashoggi went inside.
'At this time, I implore President Trump and first lady Melania Trump to help shed light on Jamal's disappearance,' she wrote.
'We're going to take a very serious look at it, it's a terrible thing,' Trump said.
The White House also revealed in a statement by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that two senior officials, the national security advisor and Trump's son-in-law, have contacted the Saudis on the matter.
'White House National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton and White House Senior Advisor, Jared Kushner spoke to Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman yesterday about the missing Washington Post journalist,' according to Sanders.
'Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow up call with the Crown Prince to reiterate the United States request for information. In both calls they asked for more details and for the Saudi government to be transparent in the investigation process. We will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as available.' Sarah Sanders,' she said.
Asked if Khoshoggi was dead, Trump responded: 'I hope not.'
'We have to find out who did it,' Trump said.
Asked if he believed it was the Saudis, Trump responded: 'I would rather not say, but the answer is yes,' he said.
Longtime diplomat Aaron David Miller, who has negotiated Middle East policy on behalf of multiple administrations, tweeted following Khashoggi's death: 'If Saudis were involved in Jamal’s death or disappearance, that’s obviously on them. But in failing to call [Saudi Crown Prince] MBS out on just about anything, particularly repression at home, Trump Administration has emboldened him and given him [the] sense he can do anything,' he wrote.
Trump encouraged reporters to contact the first lady's office, although a spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for information.
'They're in touch and she'll be most likely coming to the White House and we'll work on it together,' the president said.
Khashoggi, who lived in the U.S. in exile and whose children are U.S. citizens, disappeared during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istambul Oct. 2.
Turkish officials say he was killed by Saudi agents during the visit. Khsashoggi was a prominent critic of the Saudi regime.
A pro-government Turkish newspaper published an account of a team of Saudis who flew to Istambul around the time of the disappearance.
A detailed Washington Post report cites flight data and security camera footage surrounding the incident. The report states that a team of 15 Saudi flew to Istambul aboard private jets shortly before the incident.
The team members departed immediately after Khashoggi's disappearance. Khashoggi has been a contributor to the Post's Global Opinions section.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.