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Trump says "it certainly looks" like Khashoggi is dead

President Trump on Thursday said "it certainly looks" like journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, as his administration has thus far avoided specific conclusions about the missing writer's fate. 

Mr. Trump, speaking to reporters at Joint Base Andrews on his way to a rally in Montana, offered his clearest belief yet about what happened to the Saudi journalist who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this year.

Asked if he believes Khashoggi is dead, the president responded, "It certainly looks that way to me. It's very sad. It certainly looks that way."

The president said there will be "very severe" consequences for the Saudis if they're found responsible, before adding, "But we'll see what happens."

Hours earlier at the White House, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ignored a journalist's question as to whether he believes Khashoggi is dead, after returning from a whirlwind trip to Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Trump has been reluctant to blame the Saudis in the situation, citing their generous investment in the United States' economy.

"They are ordering military equipment," Mr. Trump told "60 Minutes" last week. "Everybody in the world wanted that order. Russia wanted it, China wanted it, we wanted it. We got it."

"I don't wanna hurt jobs," he said. "I don't wanna lose an order like that. There are other ways of punishing."

Pompeo's response to the possibility of Saudi involvement has been even more diplomatic than the president's.

"They made a commitment to hold anyone connected to any wrongdoing that may be found accountable for that, whether they are a senior officer or official," Pompeo said of the Saudi ruling family earlier this week.

"I don't want to talk about any of the facts," Pompeo told reporters. "They didn't want to either, and they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way."

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.