Skip to main content

Top US senator demands Khashoggi records from Pompeo

Senator Bob Menendez asks State Department to turn over records relating to murder of Saudi journalist
White House has ignored Magnitsky Act deadline (AFP/File photo)
By in

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked the US State Department to turn over all records relating to the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, including any possible findings on the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The letter, sent by Senator Bob Menendez to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday, also berated Donald Trump's administration for ignoring a deadline it had to release a report identifying who was behind Khashoggi's murder.

Menendez gave Pompeo until the end of the month to release all findings, analyses and recommendations on the murder that the State Departments may have.

Late last year, Senate leaders invoked the Magnitsky Act, a human rights law, in the Khashoggi case, requiring the administration to present a report to lawmakers on the murder within 120 days - a period that expired on 8 February.

'Now, despite the mountain of credible evidence, this administration seeks to avoid not only the spirit, but the very letter of the law'

-Bob Menendez, on Trump missing the Magnitsky deadline

In his letter on Thursday, Menendez asked Pompeo to provide a "legal determination" to justify the administration's position that it is not bound by law to respond to Senate leaders, as stipulated by the Magnitsky Act.

A White House official told US media last week that Trump "maintains his discretion to decline to act" on the lawmakers' demands.

That was rejected by top Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

"Now, despite the mountain of credible evidence, this administration seeks to avoid not only the spirit, but the very letter of the law," Menendez wrote in Thursday's letter.

"This is wholly unacceptable for a nation built on the rule of law and committed to the protection of human rights."

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was critical of bin Salman, was killed by Saudi government agents at the country's consulate in Istanbul on 2 October.

Outrage persists months after Khashoggi's brutal murder
Read More »

In December, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution stating that it believes bin Salman is responsible for the assassination, shortly after the CIA concluded that the crown prince was behind the murder.

Still, Trump has been adamant in standing by his Saudi allies, namely bin Salman, as Saudi officials have repeatedly denied the crown prince's involvement in the murder.

In an interview with CBS News on Thursday, Pompeo said Washington is determined to have a "successful relationship" with Riyadh, but vowed to hold "everyone responsible" for the killing of Khashoggi accountable.

He did not respond to a question on whether he believes the CIA's assessment on bin Salman's involvement.