Vice President Mike Pence appeared at The Washington Post's "Transformers: Space" event on Tuesday to discuss the Trump administration's developing Space Force. But first, he had some of the administration's strongest words yet regarding Jamal Khashoggi's presumed murder.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed Tuesday that Saudi officials had been planning to kill Khashoggi inside Istanbul's Saudi consulate since September. U.S. intelligence is reportedly also skeptical of the Saudi claim that "rogue" operatives killed the U.S.-based Saudi journalist, who wrote for the Post. Still, President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been reluctant to decry Saudi Arabian officials for their alleged involvement in the murder.
Pence, meanwhile, didn't hesitate to call Khashoggi's death a "brutal murder" and a "tragedy" at Tuesday's Post event. "It was also an assault on a free and independent press," Pence said, additionally confirming that CIA Director Gina Haspel is currently in Turkey to investigate.
Pence acknowledged that Erdogan's statement "flies in the face" of Saudi Arabia's claims of innocence. But he went on to echo Trump and Pompeo, calling for a full investigation into the murder. Once that is complete, the U.S. will take retaliatory action "in the context of America's vital interests in the region," Pence said, pointing to the U.S.-Saudi "alliance" that he claimed has been "renewed" under Trump's leadership. Watch Pence's remarks below. Kathryn Krawczyk