President Donald Trump vowed in a "60 Minutes" interview that the United States would get to the bottom of what happened to a missing Saudi journalist and that there would be "severe punishment" if he were found to have been killed.
In an excerpt from the interview, released by CBS on Saturday morning, Trump said the case of Jamal Khashoggi was "being looked at very, very strongly" and that his administration "would be very upset and angry" if it turned out that the Saudi government had ordered his killing.
"As of this moment, they deny it, and they deny it vehemently. Could it be them? Yes," he said in what are his strongest comments yet on the matter.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, went into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain paperwork that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiancée. He hasn't been seen in public since.
Most media sponsors pull out of Saudi conference after journalist disappears
On Friday, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN that Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that showed Khashoggi was killed this week inside the Saudi Consulate.
The evidence, which was described a Western intelligence agency described to the source, showed there was an assault and a struggle inside the consulate. There is also evidence of the moment that Khashoggi was killed, the source said.
The foreign intelligence service found the nature of the evidence, which was provided in a briefing from Turkish officials, to be "shocking and disgusting," the source told CNN.
Speaking to reporters Saturday in the Oval Office, Trump was asked if he had seen or heard the evidence and said "we are going to be seeing it very soon."
Trump also said the "timing is strict coincidence" between the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkish custody and the situation of Khashoggi at the Turkish consulate.
Saudi Arabia firmly denies any involvement in his disappearance and says he left the consulate that afternoon. But his fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate, says she did not see him re-emerge. Turkey has called on Saudi officials to provide evidence he left the consulate.
Trump's comments came as a growing number of global businesses withdrew from an upcoming summit in Saudi Arabia amid concerns over Khashoggi's disappearance.