Opening the door a crack: A man enters Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul yesterday. (Lefteris Pitarakis/AP)

A well-wired Republican texts me the reason President Trump is buying the Saudis' story: "Constraining Iran is the priority and Saudi is a critical ally in that effort. That 'trumps' the horrible human rights violation."

Here's how the Saudis last night began trying to defuse the international crisis: "The Saudi government acknowledged early Saturday that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, saying he died during a fistfight," the WashPost reports from Riyadh.

  • "[T]he new account may do little to ease international demands for the kingdom to be held accountable."
  • "The Saudi government said it fired five top officials and arrested 18 other Saudis as a result of the initial investigation. Those fired included Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s adviser Saud al-Qahtani and deputy intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri."

Reuters notes: "Saudi Arabia provided no evidence to support its account of the circumstances that led to Khashoggi’s death."

  • Be smart, from BBC: "There can only be one of two possible alternatives here: either — as many suspect — the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was to blame or he had lost control of his inner circle, something most observers find hard to believe."

In Arizona last night, Trump called Saudi Arabia's announcement a "good first step" and said he would work with Congress on a U.S. response, per AP:

  • Asked by a reporter whether he thought Saudi Arabia's explanation for Khashoggi's death was credible, Trump said, "I do. I do." But he said before he decided what to do next, he wanted to talk to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Go deeper: Turkish official says evidence of Khashoggi's killing will be released

Go deeper

Trump tightens screws on ByteDance to sell Tiktok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump added more pressure Friday night on China-based TikTok parent ByteDance to exit the U.S., ordering it to divest all assets related to the U.S. operation of TikTok within 90 days.

Between the lines: The order means ByteDance must be wholly disentangled from TikTok in the U.S. by November. Trump had previously ordered TikTok banned if ByteDance hadn't struck a deal within 45 days. The new order likely means ByteDance has just another 45 days after that to fully close the deal, one White House source told Axios.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 21,056,850 — Total deaths: 762,293— Total recoveries: 13,100,902Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m ET: 5,306,215 — Total deaths: 168,334 — Total recoveries: 1,796,309 — Total tests: 65,676,624Map.
  3. Health: CDC: Survivors of COVID-19 have up to three months of immunity Fauci believes normalcy will return by "the end of 2021" with vaccine — The pandemic's toll on mental health — FDA releases first-ever list of medical supplies in shortage.
  4. States: California passes 600,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
  5. Cities: Coronavirus pandemic dims NYC's annual 9/11 Tribute in Light.
  6. Business: How small businesses got stiffed — Unemployment starts moving in the right direction.
  7. Politics: Biden signals fall strategy with new ads.

Harris: "Women are going to be a priority" in Biden administration

Sen. Kamala Harris at an event in Wilmington, Del. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

In her first sit-down interview since being named Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris talked about what she'll do to fight for women if elected VP, and how the Democrats are thinking about voter turnout strategies ahead of November.

What they're saying: "In a Biden-Harris administration women are going to be a priority, understanding that women have many priorities and all of them must be acknowledged," Harris told The 19th*'s Errin Haines-Whack.