President Donald Trump has been accused of violating the law and attempting to conceal Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader and his alleged connection in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Menendez and Bob Corker invoked a mandatory call for President Trump back in October over the suspected involvement of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the slaying of Khashoggi in Istanbul. However, the President ignored the call, and the White House failed to offer clear answers after the 120-day limit.
“The law is clear and direct, and the President violated the law by not giving Congress an answer to the substantive question, which is, Does the crown prince of Saudi Arabia ultimately hold responsibility for the death of Jamal Khashoggi?” Menendez told CNN on Monday, Newsweek reports.
As the White House is averting further inquiries into the case, Menendez said that he was cooperating with Sen. Lindsey Graham in an attempt to “hold the administration’s feet to the fire.”
Menendez has been seeking to target Prince Mohammed with the Magnitsky Act, named after Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who launched an investigation into alleged fraud committed by Moscow officials before being arrested on corruption charges in 2008. Magnitsky died in prison of apparent health complications one year later. U.S. officials accused Russia of jailing him to cover up their own graft and then denying him medical treatment.
In 2012, Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, allowing Washington to sanction individuals found to be involved in Magnitsky’s arrest and death. In 2017, the legislation was expanded to include any foreign individual suspected of human rights abuses around the world.
Saudi Arabia initially denied playing any role in Khashoggi’s death, but later admitted its agents had taken the writer’s life in an accidental scuffle, and that the killing was part of a planned operation. Still, the Saudi government argued that it had not ordered the attack and set out to arrest those believed responsible and to sack top intelligence figures.
The CIA then conducted an investigation of its own, and the classified findings have left a number of lawmakers, such as Menendez and Graham, even more confident of Prince Mohammad’s culpability.
Trump and other administration officials have seen the same report, however, and denied that it established a direct link between the young royal and the assassination, stirring up further suspicions among senators.