Top senators on Foreign Relations Committee seek more information on Jamal Khashoggi killing

February 15, 2019

Top senators on the Foreign Relations Committee are demanding more information from the Trump administration about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey last year.

Republican and Democratic members sent separate letters to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week after the administration failed to meet last Friday’s deadline to submit a report on the slaying that is linked to the Saudi royal family.

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is committed to pursuing all information available in its oversight role and, to that end, is in the process of arranging a classified briefing for the committee,” wrote Chairman Jim Risch, Idaho Republican.

Democratic members took a harder line on the issue and said the administration’s response thus far “makes a mockery of the United States’ commitment to human rights.”

“Despite foreign and international officials investigating this matter who have concluded that senior Saudi officials bear responsibility for Khashoggi’s murder, this administration has been conspicuously reticent to hold senior officials and senior members of the royal family accountable,” wrote Sen. Bob Menendez, the committee’s top Democrat.

“Now, despite a mountain of credible evidence, this administration seeks to avoid not only the spirit but the very letter of the law. This is wholly unacceptable for a nation built on the rule of law and committed to the protection of human rights,” added Mr. Menendez, of New Jersey.

The Senate passed a resolution naming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman responsible for the killing after U.S. intelligence officials concluded that he at least had knowledge of the plot last year.

The fallout from Mr. Khashoggi’s death prompted U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to push legislation that would force the Trump administration to withdraw American support from a Saudi-led military campaign against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.

Sending a stern message to President Trump about his close alliance with Saudi Arabia, the House this week passed a resolution that calls for the end of all U.S. support for the Saudis in the war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels, and invokes the War Powers Act, which would insert congressional oversight in the conflict and direct the president to withdraw U.S. forces in the country.

Democrats on the committee demanded that Mr. Pompeo answer a host of questions ranging from whether the administration has any legal authority to not submit information to the committee, to seeking additional evidence on Mr. Khashoggi’s cause of death.

“Your administration is currently not in compliance with that statutory requirement, and we urge you to fix the situation immediately,” Mr. Menendez wrote. “The United States must continue to reaffirm our guiding principles of transparency, accountability, and human rights.”