President Donald Trump has become increasingly irritated by the fallout from Jamal Khashoggi’s death, multiple sources who have heard him voice his frustration told CNN.
In recent days, the President has complained about the negative coverage blanketing cable television and told confidantes he feels betrayed by the Saudis, who have presented shifting accounts about what happened to the journalist after he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey three weeks ago to obtain a marriage document and never left.
The President, who spoke Sunday with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is privately blaming them for making him look badly. At times he has talked about how much he has done so much for the Saudis, complaining that they put him in this position.
Trump doesn’t like that he and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner have been depicted as overly cozy with the Saudis.
Saudi official claim Khashoggi died in a fistfight involving more than a dozen Saudi officials at the country’s consulate in Istanbul. Advisers have told him that that explanation for Khashoggi’s death does not add up. While departing the White House for a rally Monday in Texas, Trump appeared skeptical of the Saudi explanation and suggested he wouldn’t accept the one month the Saudis have requested to complete their investigation into Khashoggi’s death.
“I am not satisfied with what I’ve heard,” Trump said. “That’s a long time. There’s no reason for that much. Be faster.”
But White House aides have told the President that Khashoggi’s death isn’t an issue that resonates with their base and are confident it won’t affect Republican’s chances in the upcoming midterm elections. Trump is being advised to focus his messaging on the caravan, which officials think is a winning issue for Republicans two weeks before voters go to the polls. Trump hasn’t mentioned the Saudi situation at any of his campaign rallies in the past several week.
CIA Director Gina Haspel is on the ground in Turkey Tuesday reviewing evidence in Khashoggi’s murder investigation. Vice President Mike Pence, who pledged Tuesday during an interview with The Washington Post that his death “will not go without an American response,” said she will brief him and Trump upon her return.
Original article written by Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak and Manu Raju at CNN