He said he did not hear tapes allegedly containing Mr. Khashoggi's tortured and murdered, but confirmed, as in the last few days, that he was likely to be dead. "At this point, it looks like he may not be there or not, and that's very sad," Trump said. "I think we knew it by now."
Saudi Arabia again denied any involvement in the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi on Saturday. The Home Secretary, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, said in a statement that "what was going on in connection with alleged orders to kill Jamal are direct lies and baseless allegations against the government of the kingdom, which are committed to its principles and rules has and traditions and conforms to international laws and conventions. "
An evangelical pastor who led the small Resurrection Church in Izmir, Mr. Brunson, 50, and his wife Norine lived in Turkey for two dozen years. He was arrested in October 2016, accused of spying on and supporting terrorists, and sentenced to three years, one month and 15 days in prison. He was released in house arrest in July, and a Turkish judge on Friday curtailed his sentence for the time, after which Mr. Brunson was quickly flown out of the country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey stressed on Saturday that the release was approved by the courts, not by the government. "Mr. President @realDonaldTrump, as I have always emphasized, the Turkish judiciary has made its decision independently," he wrote in Turkish on Twitter . "I hope that Turkey and the US will continue the cooperation of two allies."
The reaction in Turkey to the release was otherwise muted. The government downplayed the event, a sign of discomfort, as Mr. Brunson had long been denigrated by the Turkish news media as a terrorist and spy.
However, the anti-American, nationalist stance, increasingly backed by The Turkish Government and Erdogan himself, since a failed coup in 2016, will not be reversed easily. "Never come back!" Yelled the anti-government newspaper Yeni Safak on Saturday after Mr Brunson had left the country in a headline.