Trump vows ‘severe punishment’ if Saudis are tied to Khashoggi case

US President Donald Trump. (Bloomberg pic)

LONDON: President Donald Trump in a broadcast interview vowed “severe punishment” should Saudi Arabia be linked to the disappearance of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, missing since the beginning of this month.

In an excerpt of an interview to be broadcast Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Trump said “nobody knows” yet whether the Saudis were involved. He said they have denied involvement.

“We’ll probably be able to find out,” Trump tells reporter Lesley Stahl. “It’s being looked at very, very strongly. We would be very upset and angry if that was the case.”

“We’re going to get to the bottom of it, and there will be severe punishment,” the president said.

Khashoggi, a Saudi critic of the regime who wrote for the Washington Post, hasn’t been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2 to pick up a document for his upcoming wedding. Turkish officials have said they believe he was killed and dismembered there.

In the interview, Trump said he wouldn’t consider new sanctions that could jeopardize the contracts held by companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, which he said would put jobs at risk.

“I don’t want to hurt jobs. I don’t want to lose an order like that,” he said. “There are other ways of punishing, to use a word that’s a pretty harsh word, but it’s true.”