Trump faces bipartisan backlash for failing to comply with Khashoggi probe
A bipartisan group of lawmakers rebuked the Donald Trump administration over the weekend after it failed to comply with a congressionally mandated probe over Saudi Arabia’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter, obtained by Al-Monitor, to Congress on Friday pointing to the Trump administration’s previous sanctions on 17 Saudi individuals. However, the letter failed to address lawmakers’ request that Trump determine whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the murder by last week’s deadline. Riyadh has already arrested all 17 individuals while maintaining that the crown prince played no role in the murder, despite a CIA assessment to the contrary.
“We signaled our dedication to promoting accountability when we were the first nation to take action and designate 17 Saudi individuals on November 15, 2018, under the Global Magnitsky sanctions program for their involvement in the case of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere,” Pompeo wrote in the letter.
The Global Magnitsky Act requires the president to submit a report to Congress within four months after congressional leaders launch a federal probe into alleged human rights violations – including extrajudicial killings and torture. The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez, D-N.J., launched a Magnitksy probe last year with former committee chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn.
“I am very disappointed that the response from Secretary Pompeo doesn’t come close to fulfilling the statutory mandate and demonstrates what the administration has wanted all along – the Khashoggi murder to be forgotten,” Menendez said in a statement.
Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also issued a blistering statement following Pompeo’s letter.
“I am deeply troubled by the letter I received from the administration regarding the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi,” said McCaul. “I call on the administration to immediately comply with the requirements of the law and to provide Congress with the information required.”
- Bryant Harris