A timeline of the disappearance and alleged slaying of Jamal Khashoggi

"No not at all, I just want to find out what's happening", Trump told reporters in the White House when asked if his consistently cautious approach to the scandal amounts to a cover-up.

"The Saudis are said to be preparing a cover story that will attribute Mr. Khashoggi's murder to the excesses of a team that was dispatched to interrogate him".

The US State Department says it is investigating.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the United States should "sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia" and slammed the crown prince, known by his initials MBS, as a "toxic" figure.

On Tuesday, a high-level Turkish official told the AP that police found "certain evidence" of Mr Khashoggi's murder at the consulate.

There are claims that Mr Mr Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the building by a 15-member Saudi "assassination squad".

He was seen, through CCTV footage, entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but was never seen coming out.

Asked during an interview on Fox Business what punitive steps he had in mind if he learned Saudi Arabia was responsible, Trump said: "Well, I hope we're going to be on the better side of the equation".

At the same time, members of the US Congress, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans, are among the loudest voices in the United States demanding answers and action on Khashoggi, who moved to Washington past year fearing retribution for his criticism of the crown prince.

Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince in columns written for The Washington Post, had been living in the U.S.in self-imposed exile.

Earlier on Monday, The New York Times and CNN, quoting unnamed sources, reported that Saudi Arabia would acknowledge Khashoggi's death was "the result of an interrogation that went wrong".

Trump also said Saudi Arabia is an important ally against Iran and the war on terror.

Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty ImagesCrown Prince Mohammed bin Salman traveled with his security detail Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb on several occasions; here they are in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 25, 2018.

On October 17 Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Safak reports that Khashoggi was tortured before being decapitated inside the consulate, saying it had heard audio recordings of the incident. Two Turkish government officials contacted by Reuters declined to confirm the report.

One person named by Turkish authorities, Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, has been photographed on trips with the Crown Prince this year, during his visits to Paris, Madrid, Boston, Massachusetts, and Houston, Texas.

Pompeo said the Saudis are committed to a "thorough, transparent and timely" investigation.

Pompeo also rejected assertions that he was giving Saudi leaders "the benefit of the doubt" in accepting their denials of any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance.

On Wednesday, Pompeo visited Ankara, Turkey to hold talks with Turkish officials about the case.

U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) called for the suspension of arms sales, as well as for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to drop out of a Saudi investment conference in Riyadh scheduled for next week. Saudi Arabia has denied the claims.

"My assessment from these meetings is that there is a serious commitment to determine all the facts and ensure accountability, including accountability for Saudi Arabia's senior leaders or senior officials", Pompeo said in a statement.

"I've been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate", Graham said of the country, which has always been an ally of the United States despite its human rights abuses.

  • David Armstrong