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October 23, 2018

President Trump is leaving retribution for Jamal Khashoggi's murder up to Congress — just like the FBI investigation into Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, he says.

In a wide-ranging set of comments on Tuesday, Trump said an alleged Saudi operation to kill the U.S.-based Saudi journalist was "carried out poorly, and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups." But he says he still wants to "see the facts first" before deciding whether to believe Turkish claims that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly behind the murder.

Trump has been reluctant to criticize Saudi involvement in the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi in Turkey's Saudi consulate, though Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did announce the revocation of visas from Saudi agents said to have killed Khashoggi on Tuesday. But "in terms of what we ultimately do," presumably meaning fuller consequences for the country, Trump says he's "going to leave it up to Congress." That's a "little bit" like what he did for senators who wanted an FBI investigation into Kavanaugh, Trump said.

Trump went on to discuss the Honduran migrant caravan still 1,000 miles from the U.S. border. He previously — and baselessly — claimed "unknown Middle Easterners" were in the throngs marching through Mexico, but said Tuesday "there's no proof" of that being true. He also defended his repeated assertion that he is a "nationalist," claiming he'd "never heard" theories that his comments implied he was a white nationalist. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:41p.m.

Following the recent Senate race recount, the elections supervisor of Broward County, Florida, has submitted her resignation letter, The Sun-Sentinel reports.

Brenda Snipes has spent 15 years as the supervisor of elections, and during the election earlier this month, faced criticism from Republican Gov. Rick Scott for taking longer than other counties to finish the initial counting of ballots. Scott was the GOP candidate against incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, and without providing any evidence, wanted the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate what "may be rampant voter fraud" in the county.

After counting the ballots, Scott had a lead of about 12,000 votes over Nelson, which triggered by law a recount. After a machine recount and then a hand recount that was ordered Thursday, the final vote tallies were submitted to the state on Sunday, and Nelson conceded. The Sun-Sentinel reports that Broward County made many errors after Election Day, including losing 2,040 ballots between the initial count and the recount and not updating results as frequently as the law requires.

Snipes has been criticized during previous elections as well for long lines and destroying ballots before being legally allowed to do so. Snipes did not respond to The Sun-Sentinel's request for comment, but Burnadette Norris-Weeks, counsel to the Supervisor of Elections Office, told the newspaper that she saw an early version of the resignation letter, and Snipes says she wants to spend more time with her family. She believes the resignation is effective Jan. 2, 2019. A Democrat, Snipes was appointed in 2003 by former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, then elected in 2004. Catherine Garcia

10:42p.m.

On Sunday, firefighters continued to make progress against the Camp Fire in Northern California, the deadliest fire in state history, and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California.

The Camp Fire in Butte County has killed at least 76 people, scorched 149,500 acres, and destroyed 12,786 structures, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Sunday. There are 1,276 people unaccounted for in the area. The fire is 60 percent contained.

The Woolsey Fire has burned 96,949 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, destroying 1,130 structures and killing at least three people. The fire is 90 percent contained, with Cal Fire expecting full containment by Thursday.

About four inches of rain is forecast for Butte County late Tuesday through Friday, and close to two inches in Southern California later in the week, which will help both firefighters and air quality but increases the risk of mudslides in burn areas. Catherine Garcia

9:48p.m.

President Trump tried some new material out on Twitter Sunday, profanely twisting the name of one of his loudest critics, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

"So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!" Trump tweeted. Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, responded with a tweet of his own: "Wow, Mr. President, that's a good one. Was that like your answers to Mr. Mueller's questions, or did you write this one yourself?"

Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last year, and did not require Senate confirmation. Schiff and others have argued that Whitaker's appointment was unconstitutional because he wasn't confirmed by the Senate, and never held a position in the Department of Justice that required Senate confirmation. Before accepting the position, Whitaker was a vocal opponent of Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential election. Trump's legal team has been working on answering questions from Mueller, and on Friday, Trump claimed to have responded "very easily" to them.

Should Trump decide to backtrack from the tweet and insist that he misspelled Schiff's name on accident, it would only be his second biggest blunder of the weekend: on Saturday, while touring the fire-ravaged town of Paradise, California, he referred to it as "Pleasure," twice. Catherine Garcia

8:44p.m.

On Sunday, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida conceded his re-election bid to Republican Rick Scott, the state's current governor.

Nelson spent four decades in politics, starting in the Florida state House, then going to space on the Space Shuttle Columbia as a congressman in 1986 before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000. Scott lead Nelson by about 12,000 votes after ballots were first counted, a margin so close that it triggered a mandatory recount. After a second machine recount was finished, a manual recount was ordered late last week, and by that time Scott's lead had dropped slightly to 10,033. There were almost 8.2 million votes cast.

This was the most expensive Senate race in Florida history, the Miami Herald reports, with Scott spending more than $50 million of his own money on his campaign. Catherine Garcia

11:47a.m.

"I think the evidence is overwhelming" that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the murder of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said on Face the Nation Sunday. "I don't think we can sweep this under the rug."

Paul reiterated his push to end U.S. arms sales to the Saudi government in retaliation for Khashoggi's killing, decrying the administration's plan to sanction other parties involved. "I think sanctions are pretending to do something without really doing anything," the senator said.

"Most of these people [being sanctioned] are in prison, other than the crown prince," Paul continued. "We need to punish who ordered this, who's in charge. ... If the president wants to act strongly, he should cut off the arm sales" over Khashoggi and because of civilian deaths in the U.S.-supported, Saudi-led intervention in Yemen's civil war.

President Trump continues to express skepticism that MBS is implicated in Khashoggi's death, and he suggested in an interview airing on Fox Sunday he might keep a close alliance with the Saudi prince even if he is guilty of the journalist's murder. He has repeatedly resisted calls to end weapons deals with Riyadh, claiming the economic toll on the United States would be too high.

Watch Paul's comments in context below. Bonnie Kristian

11:30a.m.

President Trump discussed possible changes among his top staff, the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and more in a Fox News Sunday interview with Chris Wallace set to air at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern.

"I have three or four or five positions that I'm thinking about [changing]," Trump said of his Cabinet lineup. "Of that, maybe it's going to end up being two. But I need flexibility." He suggested dissatisfaction with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in particular.

On Khashoggi's death, Trump maintained his skepticism despite Friday's report that the CIA has concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the murder. Even if MBS lied to his face, Trump said, "I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good." After all, Trump mused, "Who could really know [whether MBS lied]? But I can say this, he's got many people now that say he had no knowledge."

And asked by Wallace to grade his own presidency, Trump gave himself an A+ and inquired if a better mark is possible. "Look, I hate to do it, but I will do it," he said. "I would give myself an A+. Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?" Watch that clip below. Bonnie Kristian

11:04a.m.

Rain is forecast for areas affected by California's deadly Camp Fire in the coming week, with mixed effects anticipated.

The water may help contain the wildfire, which has claimed 76 lives and burned more than 100,000 acres. However, areas already burned lack live plant cover on uneven ground. "It'll bring much-needed relief to the firefighters and to the air quality," Patrick Burke of the National Weather Service told Reuters, "but there's a potential for dangerous mudslides wherever vegetation is burned away on slopes and hills."

More than 1,000 people are listed as missing in connection to the fire, but authorities say that list may contain duplicate names. Some of those listed as missing have called the police to say they are not in any danger, and the total missing count is expected to shrink as further information becomes available. Bonnie Kristian

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