• Here are more details from my colleagues’ Thursday night report that Turkish officials have told U.S. officials they have audio and video recordings that prove Kashoggi was killed inside the consulate:
“The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said.
“The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi’s death, the officials said.
“’The voice recording from inside the embassy lays out what happened to Jamal after he entered,’ said one person with knowledge of the recording who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss highly sensitive intelligence.
“’You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,’ this person said. ‘You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.’…
“The existence of such evidence would explain why Turkish officials were quick to accuse Saudi Arabia of killing Khashoggi. But Turkish officials are wary of releasing the recordings, fearing they could divulge how the Turks spy on foreign entities in their country, the officials said.”
Meanwhile, in Istanbul, my colleague Kareem Fahim reported on another new wrinkle in the Khashoggi investigation. Turkish authorities said they had agreed to a request by Saudi Arabia to form a joint committee to probe Khashoggi’s disappearance, even as Turkish officials privately alleged the Saudis had killed him. Fahim writes that the Saudi request to cooperate with Turkey “was a possible sign that the Saudi leadership may be searching for an exit from the crisis as it faces growing international pressure to explain Khashoggi’s fate.”
• Saudi Arabia is not just a political ally for President Trump, as The Post’s David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O’Connell observed: “It has also been a customer.”
They go on: “Trump’s business relationships with the Saudi government — and rich Saudi business executives — go back to at least the 1990s. In Trump’s hard times, a Saudi prince bought a superyacht and hotel from him. The Saudi government paid him $4.5 million for an apartment near the United Nations.
“Business from Saudi-connected customers continued to be important after Trump won the presidency. Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 last year to reserve rooms at Trump’s hotel in Washington. Just this year, Trump’s hotels in New York and Chicago reported significant upticks in bookings from Saudi visitors…
“‘Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,’ Trump told a crowd at an Alabama campaign rally in 2015. ‘Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.’…
“In 1991, when Trump was nearly $900 million in debt from failed casino projects, he sold his 281-foot yacht to Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal for $20 million. (The boat had been originally owned by late Saudi billionaire and arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a cousin of Jamal Khashoggi.)
“A few years later, the prince bought a stake in Trump’s Plaza Hotel by agreeing to pay off some of Trump’s debts on the property.”
• The winds of geopolitics have a habit of turning quickly. A few months ago, the United States and Turkey were in the thick of a dispute centered on Turkey’s detention of an American pastor. Now, as Ankara grapples with the crisis over Khashoggi, there are signs of an end to the impasse. My colleagues Karen DeYoung and Carol Leonnig report:
“The Trump administration is cautiously optimistic that an American cleric who has been held in Turkey for the past two years on espionage and terrorism-related charges will be released soon after a court hearing Friday, according to U.S. officials and people close to the case.
“In a negotiated deal that includes the lifting of U.S. sanctions — both threatened and implemented — against Turkey, charges against the Rev. Andrew Brunson are to be reduced to allow him to be sentenced to time already served, or to be allowed to serve any remaining sentence in the United States.
“The agreement — part of which was negotiated at last month’s U.N. General Assembly meeting, attended by President Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — will either lead to Brunson’s immediate release Friday, or his freeing within a few days, said officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the still-secret arrangement…
“Congress, where anti-Turkey sentiment over the Brunson case has been high, passed legislation freezing the sale of 100 F-35 aircraft to Turkey and giving Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — who opposed the freeze — until next month to prepare a report on how it would affect U.S. security and the defense industry.
“Possible resolution of the Brunson case also comes as the United States and Turkey have tempered some of their differences over Syria, and have shared their disquiet over last week’s disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi journalist, during a visit to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.”