After Trump Admin Flouts Law on Khashoggi Murder Determination, Menendez Opens Inquiry by Calling on Sec. Pompeo to Turn over All Related Documents

After Trump Admin Flouts Law on Khashoggi Murder Determination, Menendez Opens Inquiry by Calling on Sec. Pompeo to Turn over All Related Documents

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today announced his next steps in seeking justice for Jamal Khashoggi in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Senator’s letter comes after the Trump Administration flouted a law requiring President Trump to determine which Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, were responsible for the murder of Khashoggi, a journalist and U.S. permanent resident. 

Last year, Senator Menendez, as the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with then Chairman Bob Corker triggered a provision of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to Saudis involved in the Khashoggi murder, including specifically Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The law requires that the President determine within 120 days whether a foreign individual is responsible for extrajudicial killings, and report to Congress on whether the President intends to impose sanctions on that person. Twenty other Senators joined their request. On Friday, that deadline passed with no action by the administration other than a wholly inadequate letter from Secretary of State Pompeo.  

“Your letter exacerbates the fears that this administration continues to hide something when it comes to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi,” wrote Menendez in his response to Secretary Pompeo. Stating that Congress “cannot rely only on the statements of the administration on this matter,” the senator officially requested that the State Department turn over all documents and records related to the Administration’s efforts to determine who is responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi and its decision to break the Global Magnitsky Act. 

“Despite foreign and international officials investigating this matter who have concluded that senior Saudi officials bear responsibility for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder, this administration has been conspicuously reticent to hold senior officials and senior members of the Royal Family accountable,” added Senator Menendez. “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.”  

Last week, in anticipation of the White House’s refusal to comply with the Global Magnitsky invocation, Senator Menendez was also joined by a bipartisan group of senators in introducing the Saudi Arabia Accountability and Yemen Act of 2019, comprehensive legislation to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the Saudi-led coalition for its role in the devastating war in Yemen. Menendez has called on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to immediately take this legislation up.

 

A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

Mr. Secretary:

Last Friday, you sent me a letter that fails to comply with existing federal law or provide Congress the information that the President is statutorily-required to provide. This flagrant violation of the law is deeply troubling, but even more so considering the gravity of the matters at stake—the brutal killing of a journalist and U.S. lawful permanent resident. 

As you well know, last year, I along with then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, triggered the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with a written request that the Presidentdetermine if a foreign person was responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder and whether sanctions should be imposed. We also specifically requested that the President’s determination address whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible. The Global Magnitsky Act requires that, within 120 days of receiving such a request, the President shall make the relevant determination and submit a report to Congress with respect to the determination including any plans to impose sanctions.[1] There is nothing in the statute that makes compliance with the law voluntary or conditional.  

Your letter exacerbates the fears that this administration continues to hide something when it comes to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Despite foreign and international officials investigating this matter who have concluded that senior Saudi officials bear responsibility for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder, this administration has been conspicuously reticent to hold senior officials and senior members of the Royal Family accountable. 

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.  

While I urge you to immediately bring this administration into compliance with the Global Magnitsky Act, it is also clear we cannot rely only on the statements of the administration on this matter. Therefore, I request that the Department immediately provide its legal determination that it is not required to submit a report to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee pursuant to section 1263(d) of the Global Magnitsky Act.  

In addition, I request that you provide the following no later than February 28, 2019:

1.      All records reflecting or relating to a determination, analysis, or discussion that any foreign person is responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, including any recommendations for making such a determination;

2.      All records reflecting or relating to a determination, analysis, or discussion that any senior official in the Government of Saudi Arabia or member of the royal family of Saudi Arabia, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi;

3.      All records reflecting or relating to the cause of or circumstances surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi, including any records received from any other agency or third party, including other governments and nongovernmental organizations;

4.      All records reflecting or relating to consideration of and efforts to obtain information regarding the death of Jamal Khashoggi from other agencies, countries, and nongovernmental organizations that monitor violations of human rights;

5.      All records reflecting or relating to consideration of information submitted by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including the letters of October 10, 2018 and November 21, 2018;

6.      All records reflecting or relating to the decision of whether to submit a report to Congress regarding Jamal Khashoggi pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act;

7.      All records reflecting or relating to whether any individual should be subject to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for the death of Jamal Khashoggi;

8.      A description of the steps the administration has taken to make any determination(s) that any foreign person is responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi and to comply with the Global Magnitksy Human Rights Accountability Act, 

The above requests pertain to all records, regardless of source, that are in the Department’s possession, custody, or control.

It is my sincere hope that the Department and the administration will immediately and fully comply with the Global Magnitsky Act, and will respond to gross violations of human rights in a manner that the world can and should expect from the United States. In the meantime, I look forward to your full compliance with these requests. 

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