Politics: Lawmakers plan to pressure Trump on Khashoggi as Pompeo denies 'covering up for a murder' - PressFrom - US

PoliticsLawmakers plan to pressure Trump on Khashoggi as Pompeo denies 'covering up for a murder'

02:55  12 february  2019
02:55  12 february  2019 Source:   cnn.com

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WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday condemned Saudi Arabia’s account of the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi as “the worst cover - up ever,” and his administration warned for the first time that it would impose human rights sanctions on some of those who took part in the plot.

US President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabia's response to the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi is "the worst cover - up ever". But President Erdogan of Turkey has said the journalist was the victim of a carefully planned "political murder " by Saudi intelligence officers and

Lawmakers plan to pressure Trump on Khashoggi as Pompeo denies 'covering up for a murder'© Leah Millis/Getty Images US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, on October 16, 2018. Pompeo held talks with Saudi King Salman seeking answers about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, amid US media reports the kingdom may be mulling an admission he died during a botched interrogation.

Senators furious about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi are working on a bipartisan effort to exert more pressure on the White House as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Monday the administration is not "covering up for a murder."

Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN Monday that he is working with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to "hold the administration's feet to the fire" on Saudi Arabia and its admitted, pre-meditated murder of the Washington Post journalist.

Erdogan says cannot understand US 'silence' over Khashoggi murder

Erdogan says cannot understand US 'silence' over Khashoggi murder Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday accused the United States of maintaining a "silence" on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. "I cannot understand America's silence... We want everything to be clarified because there is an atrocity, there is a murder," Erdogan told a televised interview. "The Khashoggi murder is not an ordinary one.

But in the Khashoggi case, Trump and Pompeo have signaled that facts will be dictated by policy, rather than Lawmakers on Capitol Hill lambasted Trump ’s perceived exoneration of the crown prince and called on For any administration, grappling with the murder of Khashoggi would be a challenge.

Trump has sent mixed messages about Khashoggi for days, vowing a severe response but also saying that the Even if Khashoggi died because of an altercation, that’s no excuse for his murder Khashoggi , a Washington Post contributor who lived in suburban Washington, was a former insider

Graham said he and Menendez are "going to take appropriate action" to put a bill on the President's desk, and called the murder of Khashoggi "barbaric beyond acceptance."

"We believe the Crown Prince -- MBS -- had a hand in this. It couldn't have happened without his knowledge and approvals and we're going to take appropriate action," he added.

Menendez and Graham spoke after the administration's decision Friday not to properly respond to a congressional deadline requiring the President to determine whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder and if sanctions will be levied as a result.

On Friday, a senior administration official told CNN that "the President maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate." And later that day, Pompeo sent letters to Senate Foreign Relations chairman James Risch, an Idaho Republican, and to Menendez, of New Jersey, that appeared to lay out administration talking points.

Turkey says Saudi lack of transparency on Khashoggi concerning, detrimental to credibility

Turkey says Saudi lack of transparency on Khashoggi concerning, detrimental to credibility The "complete lack of transparency" from Saudi officials on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi is deeply concerning and detrimental to their credibility, an aide to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said. Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan's communications director, told Reuters that Saudi authorities must extradite Khashoggi's killers as proof of their willingness to serve justice. He said Turkey's findings on the case were in line with those of the United Nations special rapporteur's inquiry, adding that Ankara was committed to cooperating in a U.N. inquiry into the case.

Trump denies ‘giving cover ’ to Saudis in Khashoggi case – video. Donald Trump says the US has asked Turkey for an audio recording of Jamal Khashoggi ’s death which reportedly proves he was brutally tortured before his premeditated murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

'Worst cover - up ever': Trump on apparent Khashoggi murder plot – video. Donald Trump has said for the first time that Saudi crown prince Mohammed “We’re making very clear that the United States does not tolerate this kind of ruthless action to silence Mr Khashoggi , a journalist, through violence

'Dead wrong'

That response prompted Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, to charge that the Trump administration "has blatantly turned a blind eye to this crime ... despite the fact that the CIA concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi's killing."

"This amounts to the Trump administration aiding in the cover up of a murder," Kaine said.

Groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and PEN America leveled the same accusation Friday. "Notwithstanding public and Congressional outrage and the reported findings of the CIA, the Trump administration appears to be engaged in a cover-up on behalf of the Saudi government," the groups said in a statement.

Asked about the criticism, Pompeo pushed back.

"America's not covering up for a murder," Pompeo said Monday in Budapest, Hungary. "My response to that is Sen. Kaine is just dead wrong. He's just flat out wrong. I like Sen. Kaine, I have a lot of respect for Sen. Kaine, Sen. Kaine is just dead wrong."

Khashoggi fiance hopes Trump will change mind on killing

Khashoggi fiance hopes Trump will change mind on killing The Turkish fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said Friday she hoped pressure from the US Congress would encourage the Trump adminstration to take a tougher stance on the killing. Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor, was killed on October 2 by Saudi agents during a visit to his country's consulate in Istanbul to obtain paperwork ahead of his wedding to Hatice Cengiz. During a press conference in Istanbul for a book on Khashoggi's life, Cengiz left the door open to a meeting with US President Donald Trump if certain conditions were met.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Trump administration pushed back on Tuesday against rising condemnation of Saudi Arabia and showed support for its crown prince, who has been linked to the disappearance and possible murder of a leading dissident journalist inside a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

President Donald Trump awaited a briefing Saturday from the CIA on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi after a U.S. official said American The CIA is going to be speaking to me today," Trump told reporters before leaving the White House for a visit to California. "As of this moment we were told

"The President's made very clear, couldn't have been more clear," Pompeo continued, "as we get additional information, we'll continue to hold all of those responsible accountable."

The administration has revoked the visas and frozen the assets of Saudis allegedly involved in Khashoggi's October killing and dismemberment in the consulate in Istanbul. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say that isn't enough, however, particularly as the CIA has assessed with high confidence that the prince directed Khashoggi's murder, which was conducted by members of bin Salman's inner circle.

The administration has taken the stand that there is no smoking gun linking bin Salman to the murder, pinning its defense in part on the way intelligence works and the nature of this case. Agencies assign a confidence level to their findings, which are presented to political leaders, but don't offer conclusions.

That allows Trump to tell reporters, as he did in November when leaving for Thanksgiving in Florida, that the CIA "didn't make a determination ... they have nothing definitive and the fact is maybe he did, maybe he didn't."

Pompeo provided U.S. Congress with updates on Khashoggi killing: State Department

Pompeo provided U.S. Congress with updates on Khashoggi killing: State Department U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provided an update on the investigation into Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing to Congress on Friday, a State Department spokesperson said. The spokesperson did not offer any details on what Pompeo told lawmakers. Congress had given the Trump administration a deadline of Feb. 8 to submit a report on who bears responsibility for Khashoggi's death and whether Washington would impose sanctions on that person or people. Congressional aides said they had not received any such report from the White House by early Friday evening.

Lawmakers critical of Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi 's killing and its role in Yemen's civil war are ramping up their efforts to clamp down on the country. " Trump must accept (for once) his intelligence experts' incontrovertible conclusion: Crown Prince MBS is culpable for Khashoggi 's monstrous murder .

Trump appeared willing to resist the pressure to follow suit, accepting Saudi denials and their pledge to Khashoggi , a prominent critic of the crown prince, relocated from Saudi Arabia to the US last year He visited the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul on 2 October for an appointment to pick up

Violating the law

Trump has repeatedly stressed that Saudi Arabia is too valuable an economic partner to push the issue of bin Salman's involvement, often exaggerating the amount of arms deals the US has made with the kingdom.

Administration officials such as Pompeo have stressed the US reliance on Riyadh as a strategic partner for the administration's Middle Eastern goals -- checking Iran, funding an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and countering ISIS.

Pompeo's declarations are doing little to assuage lawmakers' anger, which only seems to be growing.

"The answer the administration gave us does not comply with the law," Menendez told CNN on Monday. "They're in violation of the law. This is not a question you can choose to answer or not. It is mandatory under the law, a law that I helped write. So at the end of the day, we're looking at different ways to compel the administration to do so, or face consequences for not doing so," he added.

Menendez said those possible consequences may include holds on nominations or continuing to hold up funding on arms sales.

"We're looking at an array of things to have the administration understand that they cannot just skirt not only the will of the Congress, but the law of the land," he said.

CNN's Michael Conte and Kristin Wilson contributed to this report

Secretary of State Pompeo on Jamal Khashoggi: 'America is not covering up for a murder.'.
Pompeo's remarks came after Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., accused the administration of turning a "blind eye" to evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi’s killing. "This amounts to the Trump Administration aiding in the cover up of a murder," Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement on Sunday. "America should never descend to this level of moral bankruptcy." The White House last week refused to comply with a congressional mandate that required the administration to determine whether the crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi's murder.

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