CNN reported Monday, citing sources, that "Saudis are preparing a report that will acknowledge that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's death was the result of an interrogation that went wrong, one that was meant to lead to his abduction from Turkey". In an apparent response to Trump's comments, a Saudi official said if any moves were taken against the kingdom "it will respond with greater action".
The State Department has urged a thorough investigation into Khashoggi's disappearance and called on Saudi Arabia to be transparent about the results - advice broadly tracking messages from allies in Europe.
"There's been stark repression of anyone whose comments are not supportive of the government", he told AFP, as Saudi's public prosecutor warned earlier this week that those spreading fake news can be sentenced to five years in jail. Germany, Britain and France issued a joint statement over the weekend expressing "grave concern" and calling for a credible investigation to ensure those responsible for the disappearance "are held to account". Trump said King Salman added that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also "had no knowledge" about Khashoggi's fate.
Trump last week vowed to uncover the truth about what happened to Khashoggi and promised "severe punishment" for those responsible.
Translation: The fierce campaign against Riyadh is expected as is the coordination between its inciting parties, and as there is a need to show the reality of the humanitarian dimension of things, the repercussions of the political targeting of Saudi Arabia will be dire for those who fuel it.
He has already ruled out halting a proposed $110 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia because of the impact it would have on American jobs. Rubio said U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should also withdraw, but White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the Treasury chief is still planning to go.
Billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal - who was among those temporarily detained as part of what Saudi authorities said was an anti-corruption crackdown - tweeted an image of the Saudi flag Sunday in support of the ruling family, saying: "God, then the king, then the nation".
On Monday Turkish and Saudi officials began a search of the consulate.
Trump said he'd made clear the stakes. "So far it's just the rumor, the rumor of a report coming out", he said.
A Turkish crime scene investigation team of around 10 people left the consulate before 5am on Tuesday after completing a search, one witness said. Surveillance footage captured him entering through the consulate's main entrance, but he was never seen leaving.
It comes as Saudi Arabia has denied involvement in his disappearance.
Business barons including British billionaire Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as well as media powerhouses Bloomberg and CNN, have pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative (FII).
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Jeff Flake, members of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Congress was prepared to move quickly and firmly if Trump failed to adequately respond to the October 2 disappearance of Khashoggi.