By Robin Wright in the New Yorker
Two weeks after the disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a cursory meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman—it lasted some fifteen minutes—and then had a longer session with his headstrong young son Mohammed, the crown prince.
The meetings seemed jovial. America’s top diplomat and the crown prince laughed together during a photo opportunity, a striking display of camaraderie amid increasingly gruesome stories about Khashoggi’s death—and reported dismemberment—in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. In yet another bizarre twist, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that surfaces in the consulate had been repainted shortly after Khashoggi disappeared.
President Trump seemed ready, even eager, to embrace the Saudi version of events—or at least the kingdom’s pledge to investigate the saga, after it abruptly abandoned its claim that Khashoggi had exited the consulate alive.