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Trump says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may be behind Khashoggi death

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U.S. President Donald Trump, in his toughest comments yet, said Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince bore ultimate responsibility for the operation that led to Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, piling pressure on his ally amid a global outcry over the journalist’s death.

The Wall Street Journal published Trump’s remarks hours before Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s appearance at a business conference where he is due to make his most high profile comments since Khashoggi was killed on Oct. 2.

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An adviser to Turkey’s president meanwhile said Prince Mohammed had “blood on his hands” over Khashoggi, the bluntest language yet from someone linked to Tayyip Erdogan about the de facto ruler of the kingdom in connection with the death.

Saudi authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the remarks by Trump and the Erdogan adviser.

Riyadh has blamed a “rogue operation” for the death of the prominent Saudi journalist, a critic of the crown prince, and said the crown prince had no knowledge of the killing.

Trump told the Journal he wanted to believe the prince when he said that lower level officials were to blame for the killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

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But he suggested responsibility lay higher up: “Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.”

The death of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist, has sparked global outrage and threatened relations between Riyadh and Washington as well as other Western nations.

For Saudi Arabia’s allies, the burning question has been whether they believe that Prince Mohammed , who has painted himself as a reformer, has any culpability in the killing, a possibility raised by several U.S. lawmakers.

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CONFLICTING ACCOUNTS
Saudi Arabia has given conflicting accounts about Khashoggi’s killing. It first denied his death and later said Khashoggi – a U.S. resident and columnist for the Washington Post – died inside the consulate after a fight.

On Sunday Riyadh called the killing a “huge and grave mistake,” but sought to shield the crown prince from the widening crisis, saying he had not been aware.

Turkish security sources say that when Khashoggi entered the consulate, he was seized by 15 Saudi intelligence operatives who had flown in on two jets just hours before.

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“It is a disgrace that reaches all the way to Crown Prince (Mohammed bin) Salman. At least five members of the execution team are (Mohammed bin) Salman’s right hands and are people that wouldn’t act without his knowledge,” Ilnur Cevik, one of several advisers to Turkey’s Erdogan, wrote in the Yeni Birlik newspaper.

“Even if U.S. President Trump saves (Mohammed bin) Salman, in the eyes of the world he is a questionable person with Khashoggi’s blood on his hands,” Cevik’s column said.

It was not immediately clear whether the Cevik’s reflected the views of Erdogan, who in speeches on Tuesday and Wednesday highlighted the need for all of those responsible – “from those who ordered it to those who carried it out” – to face justice.

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Saudi Arabia has agreed to conduct a joint investigation into Khashoggi’s killing with the Turkish authorities, with its consulate in Istanbul searched days after the journalist’s death.

As part of that probe, Turkish police in Istanbul have been granted permission to search a well in the garden of the Saudi consulate, broadcaster NTV said, after Saudi officials had earlier refused to allow a search.

SAUDI RESPONSE
Saudi Arabia has detained 18 people and dismissed five senior government officials as part of the investigation. Among those fired was Saud al-Qahtani, a top aide to Prince Mohammed. According to two intelligence sources, Qahtani ran Khashoggi’s killing by giving orders over Skype.

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Khashoggi’s death and ensuing uproar have shaken global confidence in ties with the world’s top oil exporter.

In the latest sign of unease, Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said the killing pointed clearly to a violation of human rights that required a review of Switzerland’s ties to Riyadh.

“The clues that are emerging centimeter by centimeter speak a clear language: A violation of human rights and the rule of law,” he told Swiss tabloid Blick.

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“We have to ask ourselves the question of what that means for our bilateral relations. And we will definitely do that.”

The German government is discussing how to deal with arms exports to Saudi Arabia that have already been approved but not yet delivered, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said.

France will take appropriate measures if Saudi Arabia’s guilt over the killing of Khashoggi is clearly established, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said.

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Separately, President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia, said Riyadh would not have murdered Khashoggi without American protection, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Editing by William Maclean; Editing by Jon Boyle

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump claimed North Korea missile testing ‘would stop’ — but they just launched again: report

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The upcoming G7 summit meeting in Bairritz, France will have one more issue to grapple with after North Korea reportedly conducted missile tests.

"South Korea's military confirms that North Korea has launched a projectile this morning. From South Hamgyong Province. Japan's government reported it first," Voice of America Seoul bureau chief William Gallo Tweeted Friday.

"North Korea has now conducted nine rounds of launches since early May. But this one's notable because it comes after Trump says Kim promised "this testing would stop when the exercises end." They did end Tuesday. And yet..." he noted.

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Trump is ‘having a full-blown mental breakdown’ and needs to resign: Ex-Trump staffer

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Leading Republican elected officials should work with President Donald Trump's family to negotiate him resigning from office, a former top White House official suggested on MSNBC on Friday.

Former White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci blasted his former boss during an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC's "Meet the Press Daily."

"He has totally and completely lost it. There is nobody that can look at the situation, read the tweets, look at the press sprays, and say he hasn’t lost it," Scaramucci argued.

"What does that mean, lost it?" Todd asked. "Define that."

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Obama’s chief economist warns of ‘a very high chance’ Trump’s trade war could cause 2020 recession

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The former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama warned of "a very high chance" of Trump's trade war with China resulting in a recession -- "just in time for 2020."

Austan Goolsbee was interviewed by MSNBC's John Heilemann on Friday after the DJIA closed down over 600 points after the trade war escalated on Friday.

"Just give us, if you would, Austan, your sense of what has unfolded today and how bad it is," Heilemann asked.

"Yes, it’s terrible, I'm phoning from a bunker as we speak," Goolsbee replied.

"There hasn’t been a day like this in a very long time. Yes, the markets sell a lot but the fact we’re going to have an escalating trade war, the president of the United States is publicly declaring the head of the Fed an enemy of the state and, oh, by the way, 40% of the Amazon is on fire and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being treated for pancreatic cancer," he continued. "If this is on a Friday, it makes it bad for Monday."

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