President Donald Trump acknowledged Thursday that Jamal Khashoggi is likely dead, amid a rising firestorm over the journalist's disappearance.
"It certainly looks that way to me. It's very sad," the president said as he prepared to leave for a campaign rally in Montana. If Saudi Arabia is found responsible for Khashoggi's death, Trump will consider "very severe consequences" for the oil rich U.S. ally, he added.
The comments come as Trump faces mounting criticism from lawmakers for taking too soft a stance on the kingdom's conduct. Some members of Congress have called for sanctions on Saudi Arabia, which Trump has resisted as he questions the role of that country's regime in Khashoggi's disappearance.
Earlier Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Trump wanted to give Saudi Arabia "a few more days to complete" an investigation into what happened. At the time, he did not answer reporters' questions about whether Khashoggi died.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also said Thursday that he would not attend an international investing conference in Saudi Arabia. CNBC and other media outlets, as well as leading financial figures such as IMF Chief Christine Lagarde and J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, have dropped out of the event.