What does it say about the credibility of an investigation when a cleaning crew fully equipped with boxes of chemicals, mops, trash bags, and... milk arrives at the scene of the alleged crime right before the probe begins?
"You couldn't make his up!!! Literally minutes after Saudi authorities said Turkish investigators could enter the consulate—a cleaning team arrived and entered the building."
—Jamal Elshayyal, Al Jazeera
At around the same time Saudi King Salman insisted in a Monday morning phone call with U.S. President Donald Trump that his regime had nothing to do with the disappearance and alleged murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi—a denial Trump dutifully echoed to reporters while suggesting that perhaps "rogue killers" were behind the gruesome crime—video cameras captured a team of cleaners hauling several buckets of mops, two large cases of trash bags, Dixi cleaning solution, another carton of what appears to be bleach, and two cases of Pinar milk through the front door of Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul.
The cleaning crew was seen entering the consulate shortly before Turkish investigators were set to arrive to carry out an "inspection" in search of additional evidence of who was behind the disappearance of Khashoggi, a frequent critic of the Saudi royal family.
If the Saudis were concerned about the optics of a well-prepared cleaning crew arriving on the scene of an alleged murder just moments before the start of an investigation that is being closely watched by the international community, they did not show it—the crew walked in the front entrance of the consulate in full view of Reuters and Associated Press cameras and journalists.
Independent reporter Borzou Daragahi joked in a tweet that "the way to preserve the integrity of a possible crime scene and bolster confidence in the investigation is to bring in a bunch of cleaners through the front door before the detectives arrive."
Cleaning crew was brought in to #SaudiArabia consulate in Istanbul before Riyadh reportedly agreed to #Turkey's demand for a search of the premise where journo #Khashoggi was las seen entering. pic.twitter.com/xTMGIB8Vfs
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) October 15, 2018
Cuz the way to preserve the integrity of a possible crime scene and bolster confidence in the investigation is to bring in a bunch of cleaners through the front door before the detectives arrive pic.twitter.com/p9oKfPCArF
— Borzou Daragahi (@borzou) October 15, 2018
"You couldn't make his up," added Al Jazeera journalist Jamal Elshayyal, who posted photos of the cleaning crew's pronounced arrival on Twitter.
You couldn’t make his up!!! Literally minutes after #Saudi authorities said Turkish investigators could enter the consulate - a cleaning team arrived and entered the building!!!! #JamalKjashoggi pic.twitter.com/ayXJjMmikU
— Jamal Elshayyal جمال (@JamalsNews) October 15, 2018
Shortly after the cleaning crew entered the Saudi consulate, a team of investigators arrived in an unmarked police car to begin an inspection of the building a full 13 days after Khashoggi entered to obtain marriage documents and never reemerged.
While Turkish officials have not officially stated what they believe happened to Khashoggi, they have reportedly told the U.S. that they have video and audio that suggests the journalist was tortured and murdered by a team of Saudis.
In the days following his disappearance, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have demanded answers from the Saudis, an immediate halt of U.S. arms sales to the repressive monarchy, and total withdrawal of American support for the kingdom's vicious assault on Yemen.
"I think one of the strong things that we can do is not only stop military sales, not only put sanctions on Saudi Arabia, but most importantly, get out of this terrible, terrible war in Yemen led by the Saudis," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told CNN on Sunday.
The Saudi regime, for its part, has fervently denied accusations that it had anything to do with Khashoggi's disappearance and threatened to retaliate against nations that attempt to hold the kingdom accountable.