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Trump vows 'severe punishment' if Saudis discovered to be responsible for journalist's disappearance

President Donald Trump vows "severe punishment" if it is discovered that the Saudi Arabian government is behind the disappearance or death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

If the Saudi Arabian government is behind the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, then the United States will inflict "severe punishment," President Donald Trump vowed in an interview with "60 Minutes" set to air Sunday.

What did Trump say?

"We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment," Trump vowed.

Trump acknowledged the possibility that the Saudis are behind Khashoggi's disappearance, but explained the Saudi government has denied involvement in "every way you can imagine."

However, Trump did not commit to implementing sanctions or cutting military arms deals with the Saudis if it is discovered they are responsible for Khashoggi's disappearance or death. The president cited the effects such action may have on American businesses.

"I'll tell you what I don't want to do. I don't want to hurt jobs. I don't want to lose an order like that. And you know what, there are other ways of punishing," Trump said.

Still, the president acknowledged the gravity of the situation.

"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 was the case."

Khashoggi was last seen walking into the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. He wrote regular columns for the Washington Post and was highly critical of the Saudi government, especially Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi was brutally murdered inside the consulate, they said this week. Even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is reportedly personally involved in the case. Additionally, Turkish authorities said this week they believe they possess evidence to prove their theory that Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate.

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