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U.S. to revoke 21 Saudi visas over Khashoggi's death

Last Updated Oct 24, 2018 11:39 AM EDT

Reporting by CBS News' Kylie Atwood and Kathryn Watson

The U.S is revoking the visas of 21 Saudis over the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, the State Department has announced. 

"The secretary announced that 21 Saudi suspects in the death of Jamal Khashoggi will have their visas revoked or be ineligible for a visa to enter the United States," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Tuesday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Tuesday that the U.S. would be revoking the visas of Saudi operatives who are accused of killing Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, although he didn't specify how many visas would be revoked at the time. Pompeo briefed reporters Tuesday, after meeting with Saudi and Turkish officials in the wake of the death of Khashoggi.

The secretary of state also told reporters at the State Department that the U.S. has identified some of the people "who we suspect to be responsible" for Khashoggi's death. Pompeo also said that the State Department is working with the Treasury Department on the applicability of global Magnitsky sanctions to the Saudis responsible. This will not be the last word on the matter, he promised, though he also acknowledged shared strategic interests with the Saudis.

"We're making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this ruthless action to silence Mr. Khashoggi, a journalist, through violence," Pompeo said.

Pompeo said that the Turks have been "very cooperative with us," although he declined to answer a question about whether any U.S. officials have heard an audio recording of Khashoggi that Turkish officials reportedly have in their possession. "I don't have anything more to share with you about particular data sets," the secretary said. 

The Trump administration has still taken a wait-and-see approach in determining what to do in light of the Khashoggi situation, even after the Saudis admitted that he died in their consulate, after first insisting that he walked out alive. 

On Tuesday afternoon, President Trump declared the Khashoggi "cover-up" one of the "worst in the history of cover-ups." On Monday, Mr. Trump said he isn't satisfied with what he's heard from the Saudis. He previously said he would consult with Congress before taking any action. But he has still expressed opposition to halting arms deals with the Saudis, arguing their investment in the economy is crucial for American jobs. 

When Pompeo spoke to reporters upon returning from Saudi Arabia last week, he took only two questions and gave few details about his meetings there. 

The president, however, has deferred to Congress on what to do with the Saudis, and Congress is likely to take further action. Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CBS News on Tuesday that Congress is reviewing all its options.