Trump vows "severe punishment" if Saudi Arabia is behind missing journalist

President Trump tells 60 Minutes Saudi Arabia has denied playing a part in the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, but says the case is being investigated

Last Updated Oct 14, 2018 7:37 PM EDT

President Donald Trump said in an interview with 60 Minutes the Saudis could be behind the disappearance of missing journalist and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi, and if so, the U.S. would inflict "severe punishment." In a clip broadcast on CBS This Morning earlier, Mr. Trump said there is a lot at stake "and maybe especially so because this man was a reporter."

The interview is his first with 60 Minutes since his post-election conversation with Lesley Stahl in November 2016.

Mr. Trump said the Saudis denied "in every way you can imagine" having anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance when his son-in-law Jared Kushner spoke with Saudi Arabia's crown prince. But Mr. Trump said the country may still be responsible and an investigation is ongoing. "Could it be them? Yes," the president said.

When asked what kind of punishments he may pursue if Saudi Arabia is found to be behind the disappearance, Mr. Trump wouldn't commit to sanctions or cutting sales of military equipment to Saudi from American companies.  

 "I'll tell you what I don't want to do," Mr. Trump said, "I don't want to hurt jobs. I don't want to lose an order like that. And you know what, there are other ways of punishing."

"There's a lot at stake," Mr. Trump continued. "And, maybe especially so because this man was a reporter. There's something, you'll be surprised to hear me say that, there's something really terrible and disgusting about that if that were the case. We're going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment."

Stahl interviewed Mr. Trump at the White House on Thursday. Their discussion also touched on controversial tariffs, China, North Korea, Russia, NATO and global warming.