President Trump will send Secretary of State to meet with Saudi king over missing journalist's fate

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Monday he would "immediately" send his top diplomat to meet with the king of Saudi Arabia, amid increasing pressure to confront the Middle Eastern ally over the disappearance of a dissident journalist and U.S. resident, Jamal Khashoggi. 
"Just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia who denies any knowledge of whatever may have happened" to Khashoggi, Trump tweeted Monday morning. "He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer. I am immediately sending our Secretary of State to meet with King!"
Khashoggi vanished more than a week ago in Istanbul, after he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate there for some routine paperwork.
Turkish officials allege Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime living in the U.S., was killed in the compound. Saudi officials say he left the building unharmed.

It's unclear what Trump hopes to accomplish by sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. The Saudi regime has come under intense pressure to prove that Khashoggi left the consulate alive. But it's Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who wields the real power in the country. 
Trump has oscillated between threatening “severe punishment” against the Saudi regime to downplaying the importance of Khashoggi’s fate. He noted last week, for example, that Khashoggi is not a U.S. citizen and that he incident occurred in Turkey. 
And he has swatted away multiple questions about whether his administration should cancel $110 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia if the regime is found responsible for murdering Khashoggi.  
In an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, Trump took a harder line.
“There’s a lot at stake,” he said. “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."