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Trump blasts ‘worst cover-up ever’ as Erdogan decries Khashoggi’s ‘gruesome murder’

Turkey’s president has accused Saudi Arabia of the “brutal,” premeditated murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, rejecting the idea that “rogue officers” acted independently. President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also increased their pressure on Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appeared together in a show of solidarity. Nick Schifrin reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Saudi Arabia faces new calls tonight to tell all it knows about the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The demands from Turkey and Washington build on the crisis that is already engulfing the Saudi kingdom.

    Foreign affairs correspondent Nick Schifrin begins our coverage.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    In front of a packed Parliament in Ankara, Turkey's president today provided the highest-level accusation Saudi Arabia premeditated the killing of a critic.

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan (through translator):

    The information and evidence that has been uncovered thus far lead to the conclusion that Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of a gruesome murder. Concealing such an atrocity would hurt the collective conscience of humanity.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    And in the Oval Office, President Trump echoed that accusation, and said the Saudis were trying to cover up a crime.

  • President Donald Trump:

    It was carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups. And where it should have stopped is at the deal standpoint, when they thought about it, because whoever thought of that idea, I think, is in big trouble.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Combined, the two presidents put extraordinary pressure on Saudi Arabia, and the Turks are providing most of the details.

    For weeks, Turkish officials have leaked CCTV videos and details of what they have labeled a Saudi hit squad. Erdogan confirmed three teams' movements from the airport, to a hotel, and to the consulate where Jamal Khashoggi was killed. He also provided small new details.

    He said one of the teams did reconnaissance in a local forest, presumably to scope where to put the body. He said another team removed the consulate's CCTV cameras' hard drive. He asked, on whose orders did the team act? And he rejected Saudi Arabia's explanation that rogue officers acted alone.

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan (through translator):

    Blaming this on some security and intelligence officers will satisfy neither us nor the international community.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But, so far, that's all the Saudis have done, firing Deputy Intelligence Chief Major General Ahmed al-Assiri, royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani, and detaining security official Maher Mutreb and others.

    Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would revoke the visas and look into sanctioning senior Saudi officials.

  • Mike Pompeo:

    We have identified at least some of the individuals responsible, including those in the intelligence services, the royal court, the Foreign Ministry, and other Saudi ministries who we suspect to have been involved in Mr. Khashoggi's death.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    There were no public accusations today against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, and accused by U.S. lawmakers of ordering the murder.

    A Turkish official close to Erdogan tells "PBS NewsHour" he wants to weaken MBS and was trying to separate MBS from his father, the king, whom Erdogan praised.

  • Recep Tayyip Erdogan (through translator):

    I do not doubt the sincerity of the custodian of the two mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But, today, King Salman appeared with MBS in a show of solidarity. They met Jamal Khashoggi's family. At one point, the king points, seeming to deliver a message. In the background, a guard has his hand on his gun.

    At another point, MBS meets with Khashoggi's son, Salah. They're both stone-faced.

    Later, MBS made a surprise appearance at what as supposed to be his premier international event. But, on stage, Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih admitted something is rotten in the state of Saudi Arabia.

  • Khalid al-Falih:

    These are difficult days for us in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We are going through a crisis of sort, resulting from the very regrettable and abhorrent incident that took place in Turkey. Nobody in the kingdom can justify it or explain it.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But MBS has sidelined all public criticism while claiming to change society. He has allowed women to drive and is proposing to wean the economy off of oil.

    And Al-Falih hinted that neither MBS, nor the direction he's set for the kingdom, is changing.

  • Khalid al-Falih:

    The kingdom is in the midst of a historic transformation of unprecedented proportions, and the train has moved, and it has moved deliberately towards a transformation journey that will not be stopped.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But the international criticism of Saudi Arabia is higher than at any point since 9/11, and it's now being led by both President Trump and Erdogan, whose aides hinted he has more evidence that he could release at any point.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Nick will be back on this story after the news summary.

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