A $100 million payment from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was transferred on Tuesday to the United States, amid a swirling controversy involving an alleged and gruesome assassination of a Saudi journalist who has been critical of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
The payment arrived to the U.S. on Tuesday, the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went to the Saudi kingdom to purportedly speak about the disappearance of a prominent journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul, Turkey, reported the Washington Post.
U.S. officials deny the payment had anything to do with the journalist, insisting it dealt with a promise made by the Saudis to help with military efforts being led by the U.S. in Syria.
The timing of the payment is suspicious, however, especially given the demeanor of one of Riyadh’s most vocal defenders, President Donald Trump. Speaking on Wednesday to reporters, one day after the payment came through, Trump lambasted critics who he felt had jumped to conclusions on the matter, according to the Associated Press.
“Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent,” Trump lamented, tying the incident with Khashoggi with the recent tribulations his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh went through regarding allegations of sexual assault.
But there appears to be substantial evidence, brought forward by Turkish media, about Khashoggi’s disappearance and death.
WSJ: "Saudi operatives beat, drugged, killed and dismembered a dissident Saudi journalist in the presence of the kingdom’s top diplomat in Istanbul," Turkish officials said.— Mark Follman (@markfollman) October 17, 2018
TRUMP: "Here we go again with, you know, you’re guilty until proven innocent." https://t.co/kXmw48ZnG5
According to previous reporting from the Inquisitr, a Saudi team of assassins were waiting for Khashoggi at the consulate, which he had gone to in order to finalize his divorce from his wife in his home country. Turkish media reported that they heard recordings of Khashoggi’s murder. Khashoggi was allegedly dismembered alive by a Saudi doctor, and was killed in the process, Turkish media added.
Originally after Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi officials said that the journalist, who has written critical opinion pieces against the nation’s attacks on dissidents, had left the consulate in Istanbul. But Turkish media contradicted those claims, stating he had not been seen leaving the building.
Earlier this week, the Saudi government was prepared to state that Khashoggi had indeed died at the consulate, the result of a botched interrogation that had occurred at the site, according to CBS News. Turkish media also disputed this claim, saying that the recordings they heard did not suggest Khashoggi was interrogated during his ordeal.
Pompeo was asked in Riyadh during his visit whether he or Saudi officials had discussed at all the disappearance or death of the journalist. “I don’t want to talk about any of the facts; they didn’t want to, either, in that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way,” Pompeo responded.