Saudi Arabia on Saturday conceded journalist Jamal Khashoggi died inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, as Turkey has alleged. Khashoggi went missing two weeks ago, and Riyadh previously denied all knowledge of his whereabouts.
"Discussions that took place between [Khashoggi] and the persons who met him ... led to a brawl and a fist fight ... which led to his death," said Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb. "The investigations are still underway, and 18 Saudi nationals have been arrested."
An unnamed Saudi official also told Reuters a "group of Saudis" killed Khashoggi when they put him in a "chokehold" as they "were trying to keep him quiet."
Five Saudi officials have reportedly been fired in connection to Khashoggi's death. Saudi Arabia did not say where his body, allegedly dismembered, may be now.
Riyadh provided no evidence to support this account. Nevertheless, President Trump told reporters he found the explanation credible, calling it "a good first step" and "a big step." "Saudi Arabia has been a great ally," he said. "What happened is unacceptable." White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a brief statement "acknowledging" the Saudi probe is "progressing."
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), were more skeptical. "The Saudi 'explanation' for murdering journalist and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi in a consulate — a fistfight gone wrong — is insulting," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), calling for congressional action. Bonnie Kristian