Menendez Demands Answers on Trump’s Alleged “Go Ahead” for Xinjiang Concentration Camps

Menendez Demands Answers on Trump’s Alleged “Go Ahead” for Xinjiang Concentration Camps

Senator Requests all Interpreter Notes, Records, Memoranda and Diplomatic Cables from Trump-Xi meetings

 

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is calling for the Trump Administration to immediately confirm or clarify former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s claims that President Trump explicitly endorsed the Chinese governments’ repressive system of surveillance and mass internment against millions of Uyghurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups.

The fact that the former National Security Advisor is alleging that the President of the United States gave an explicit approval to the President of China to “go ahead” with concentration camps estimated to be holding more than 1 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang, giving a green light to one of the most horrific gross human rights abuses on the planet today, is extraordinarily startling and disturbing,” Menendez wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger.  “If true, such a message would make a mockery of many of the public statements regarding the situation in Xinjiang that you and other members of the Trump Administration have made over the past several years.” 

Menendez  requested Pompeo and Pottinger provide the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with all comments made by the President about Uyghurs, Xinjiang, or camps at the Osaka G-20 meeting and from other conversations with Chinese officials. He also requested all records, cables, memoranda, notes, and other documents created by the State Department and NSC related to those discussions.

“As I understand from your public statements, Mr. Secretary, you seem to have a view that there are ‘alternative facts’ about these discussions. Providing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with the interpreter’s notes and other records should be able to answer these questions in dispositive fashion—something I assume you are eager to do,” added Menendez. 

Following President Trump’s admission that he refused to impose congressionally mandated sanctions on China over its human rights abuses out of fear that it would upend trade negotiations, Menendez called on Secretary Pompeo to rectify his contradictory testimony before the Committee last year when he claimed the Trump Administration was actively considering the imposition of Magnitsky sanctions on Beijing.

A copy of the letter may be found HERE and below: 

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo and Mr. Pottinger,

I write today to request information about your knowledge of the events regarding the plight of Uyghurs in Xinjiang as described by Ambassador John Bolton in an excerpt from his book published in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, June 17th, as well as President Trump’s statement this past Friday that he did not impose congressionally-mandated sanctions on China over its treatment of the Uyghurs due to his concern about his trade deal.  In his book excerpt, Ambassador Bolton asserts that: 

[A]t the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, (President) Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do. The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.  

The fact that the former National Security Advisor is alleging that the President of the United States gave an explicit approval to the President of China to “go ahead” with concentration camps estimated to be holding more than 1 million Uyghurs in Xinjiang, giving a green light to one of the most horrific gross human rights abuses on the planet today, is extraordinarily startling and disturbing. If true, such a message would make a mockery of many of the public statements regarding the situation in Xinjiang that you and other members of the Trump Administration have made over the past several years.

Given the troubling nature of these allegations, I want to provide you an opportunity to confirm or clarify the President’s statements. To that end, I request that you respond to this letter no later than June 25, 2020 with your detailed written recollection of all comments made by the President related to Uyghurs, Xinjiang, or camps at the Osaka G-20 and during other conversations with PRC leaders, including during his November 2017 trip to China. Please also include any statements that you made at the time in relation to the President’s comments (e.g. agreeing, disagreeing, noting their offensiveness and immorality, or other).                                                                              

I also request that you immediately locate and preserve any notes taken by the interpreter of the Trump-Xi conversation at the Osaka G-20 meeting and from the November 2017 trip, along with any other records, including memoranda, notes, or cables created by the State Department or the NSC to memorialize these meetings and discussions. To the extent that you are unable or unwilling to provide the written requested written confirmation or clarification of the President’s remarks, I hereby request that you provide all of the above-mentioned records to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee no later than July 1, 2020. As I understand from your public statements, Mr. Secretary, you seem to have a view that there are “alternative facts” about these discussions. Providing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with the interpreter’s notes and other records should be able to answer these questions in dispositive fashion—something I assume you are eager to do.

Lastly, in light of your testimony before the Committee last April, Mr. Secretary—that the United States was considering the imposition of Magnitsky Sanctions on China over its treatment of the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in concentration camps—I was surprised to read that in an interview this past Friday, President Trump asserted that he did not impose sanctions because “we were in the middle of a trade deal”. In light of the President’s remarks, I would therefore appreciate additional clarification about whether or not the President provided such guidance to you with regards to the imposition of sanctions, and if the administration in fact intends to impose congressionally-mandated sanctions on China for its clearly inhumane and unacceptable treatment of the Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Robert Menendez

Ranking Member

 

 

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