Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Pompeo provided any new insights into what had happened to Mr. Khashoggi. But with his comment about presumed guilt, Mr. Trump drew a parallel to the sexual assault accusations made against his newest Supreme Court justice, Brett M. Kavanaugh.
Mr. Trump’s reference to the bitter confirmation battle over Justice Kavanaugh was telling. In that case, he initially took a restrained tone, observing that the judge’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, appeared credible in her testimony before the Senate about an alleged sexual assault.
But over time, as the furor threatened to irreparably tarnish his nominee, Mr. Trump discarded restraint. He complained that Justice Kavanaugh had been unfairly accused, raised questions about Dr. Blasey’s account, and even mocked her at a rally.
In the case of Mr. Khashoggi, Mr. Trump first expressed concern about the allegations and warned of severe consequences if the Saudi government were found responsible. But after days of unconvincing denials from the Saudis and growing evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed or his family may have been involved, Mr. Trump is shifting to a tone of defiance.
.. Prince Mohammed, Mr. Trump said, “totally denied any knowledge of what took place in their Turkish consulate.”
.. Asked if the Saudis told him whether Mr. Khashoggi was alive, Mr. Pompeo declined to answer. “I don’t want to talk about any of the facts,” he said. “They didn’t want to either, in that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way.”
.. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told reporters in Ankara on Tuesday that investigators who searched the consulate on Monday and Tuesday were looking into “toxic materials, and those materials being removed by painting them over.”
.. Turkish news outlets, citing unnamed sources, have reported that Mr. Khashoggi was drugged, and that parts of the consulate and the nearby consul’s residence were repainted after the journalist’s disappearance.
.. Mr. Trump has vowed “severe punishment” if a Saudi hand is confirmed in Mr. Khashoggi’s killing, but has said he does not want the case to affect arms sales that create American jobs.
.. The Saudi version of the story will probably be that officials intended to interrogate and abduct Mr. Khashoggi, spiriting him back to Saudi Arabia, but that they botched the job, killing him instead, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because Saudi officials had yet to talk publicly about their plans.
.. For two weeks, Saudi leaders, including both the king and the crown prince, have denied that their country had anything to do with Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and have said that they did not know where he was. Saudi officials have insisted that he left the consulate, safe and free, the same day he entered it, although they have offered no supporting evidence.
But by Monday night, it appeared that the Trump administration and Turkey’s leaders were leaving room for a new version of events: Mr. Trump said after speaking with King Salman that perhaps “rogue killers” had been involved.
At their meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Pompeo “thanked the king for his commitment to supporting a thorough, transparent and timely investigation of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance,”
.. “We are strong and old allies,” the crown prince said in English, in brief remarks as the meeting began. “We face our challenges together.”
.. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, still plans to attend a Saudi investment forum next week, even as several American businesses and lobbyists have distanced themselves from the country.