Friday morning news: October 19, 2018

President Trump: “Very strong statement” forthcoming on Khashoggi disappearance » President Trump on Thursday said it “certainly looks” as though Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead.

He told reporters once more that he’s reserving judgment on who’s to blame pending the results of ongoing investigations.

TRUMP: And we’ll have them very soon and I think we’ll be making a statement, a very strong statement. But we’re waiting for the results of about three different investigations and we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasized that Saudi Arabia is a very important strategic ally to America in the Middle East. And he said the U.S. is giving the Saudis a few more days to complete its investigation.

POMPEO: We’ll get a chance to make a determination with respect to the credibility and the work that went into that, whether it’s truly accurate, fair and transparent in the very way that they made a personal commitment to me. And the crown prince also made a personal commitment to the president when he spoke to him. 

But Pompeo stressed that both Saudi Arabia and Turkey are investigating the matter. Jamal Khashoggi went missing inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago.

While the administration maintains its wait-and-see stance, President Trump on Thursday threatened—quote—“very severe” consequences if his administration decides the Saudi royal family is to blame.

That came as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pulled out of a major Saudi investment conference yesterday.

Treasury employee arrested for leaking information » A Treasury Department employee appeared in court Wednesday after being charged with leaking confidential banking reports related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

Prosecutors say Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards leaked photos of confidential documents to a reporter. Those documents included information about several people, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and political consultant Richard Gates.

She’s also accused of sending the reporter Treasury Department emails, investigative memos, and intelligence assessments.

Edwards is a senior adviser for the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. She left federal court in Virginia after posting a $100,000 bond.

Afghan officials killed in attack that targeted U.S. general » A deadly attack in Afghanistan Thursday,  when an Afghan guard shot and killed multiple government officials he was hired to protect. WORLD Radio’s Leigh Jones has more.

LEIGH JONES, NEWS EDITOR: High-level Afghan officials were leaving a meeting at the sprawling home of Kandahar Governor Zalmay Wesa when an elite Afghan guard opened fire on the departing delegation.

The gunman killed the region’s powerful police chief, Abdul Raziq, as well as a top Afghan intelligence official. The governor was also injured.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack and said U.S. General Scott Miller, who was also at the meeting, was the intended target. He was unharmed.

But another U.S. Army officer said the attacker was clearly aiming at Raziiq.

Three Americans suffered injuries in the attack: A U.S. service member, a contractor, and a civilian. They’re all listed in stable condition.

The Taliban has intensified attacks ahead of tomorrow’s elections in Afghanistan.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Leigh Jones.

White House counsel steps down » White House counsel Don McGahn stepped down this week. McGahn was a top election lawyer and served as general counsel for President Trump’s 2016 campaign. He was a major player in the president’s judicial nominations, including the selections of Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. He was also a point of contact for special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Trump said in August that McGahn would step down after Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Washington lawyer Pat Cipollone will succeed McGahn as White House counsel.

President Trump demands more action from Mexico at the border » President Trump threatened Thursday to send troops to the southern border if Mexico does not halt 4,000 Honduran migrants headed north. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has that story.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: The caravan of migrants set out Saturday, its numbers snowballing as many joined to flee poverty and gang violence. Most of the travelers want to apply for refugee status in the U.S.

Trump warned Tuesday the U.S. would cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador if their governments allowed the migrants to travel through their countries illegally. Since 2014, the United States has designated $2.6 billion in aid for those three countries.

Mexico reportedly sent an additional 500 police to its border with Guatemala, where the caravan is currently headed.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Mexico on Thursday to discuss how the U.S. and Mexico can work together to stop the caravan, as well as other issues.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.

Feds probing sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania » Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation of child sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania.  The feds used subpoenas to demand secret files and testimony from high-ranking leaders in what victims’ advocates say is the first such probe ever launched by the Justice Department.

The subpoenas, served last week, follow a scathing state grand jury report released over the summer. It found more than 300 “predator priests” in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children over decades and that church leaders covered it up.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain of Philadelphia, who issued the subpoenas wants to know if priests, bishops, seminarians, or others committed any federal crimes.

I’m Kent Covington. Up next—Sarah Schweinsberg updates a story from Europe. And later, Word Play with George Grant. This is The World and Everything in It.

(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel) Turkish forensic officers leave the Saudi consulate after they conducted a new search over the disappearance and alleged slaying of writer Jamal Khashoggi, in Istanbul, early Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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