President Trump has missed a deadline imposed by a bipartisan group of senators to identify the killers of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and to determine if the U.S. should impose sanctions on them.
“Consistent with the previous Administration’s position and the constitutional separation of powers, the President maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate,” a senior administration official said today.
The group of lawmakers, led by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and former Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn), last October in a letter ordered Trump to identify the people behind Khashoggi’s death within 120 days and decide whether to impose sanctions on the killers.
The letter was brought under the Global Magnitsky Act.
Last year, CIA intelligence overwhelmingly implicated Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the plot to kill Khashoggi, who had criticized the crown prince and members of the royal family. Khashoggi was living in exile in the United States.
Salman in 2017 also threatened that he would use “a bullet” on Khashoggi if he didn’t return to Saudi Arabia and stop criticizing the country’s government.
The conversation — with aide Turki Aldakhil — occurred in September 2017, just over a year before Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was killed and dismembered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the Times reported Thursday.
In the conversation, bin Salman reportedly said that if Khashoggi — a Saudi royal court insider turned government critic — could not be tempted back to the kingdom, then he should be returned forcibly.
If that did not work, the Crown Prince said he would go after Khashoggi “with a bullet,” the New York Times reported officials familiar with one of the intelligence reports as saying.
The recording was intercepted at the time by US intelligence, the Times said.
However, its significance was only understood when it was listened to by intelligence officers after Khashoggi’s death.
The Democratic House is likely to investigate Trump’s business dealings with Saudi Arabia, among other nations.
Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner, have done millions and millions of dollars worth of business there.
Trump registered eight companies during his presidential campaign that were tied to hotel interests in Saudi Arabia.
The companies were registered under names such as THC Jeddah Hotel and DT Jeddah Technical Services, according to financial disclosure filings.
During a rally in 2015, the day Trump created four of those companies, he said he gets along well with Saudi Arabia.
“They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”
After his election, Trump said on Fox News he “would want to protect Saudi Arabia.”