Corker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death
© Anna Moneymaker
 
“The story the Saudis have told about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance continues to change with each passing day, so we should not assume their latest story holds water,” Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. 
 
The GOP senator added that while the Saudi government can conduct an investigation, the Trump administration "must make its own independent, credible determination of responsibility" for the killing of The Washington Post contributor after senators triggered a probe last week. 
 
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Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: 2020 candidates look to South Carolina Where do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Barr to attend Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday MORE (R-S.C.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Pentagon transferring .8 billion to border wall MORE (D-Vt.), who lead the Appropriations Committee's subpanel that is responsible for the State Department, sent President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE a letter last week triggering an investigation under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
 
The Magnitsky law gives the administration 120 days to conduct an investigation and report back to Congress on whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing, torture or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression.
 
Corker's skepticism about the initial findings by the Saudi government comes after the kingdom on Friday for the time acknowledged that Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.
 
Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi leadership who was living in Virginia, was last seen entering the consulate on Oct. 2 to obtain documents for his upcoming marriage.
 
Saudi Arabia initially claimed that he left shortly after he arrived at the consulate, but offered no evidence to support that claim.
 
Turkish officials say they have audio that proves Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate by Saudi operatives and they told The New York Times earlier this week that he had his fingers severed, was decapitated and dismembered shortly after he arrived at the facility.
 
Turkey has not released the alleged audio, which Trump said this week that the U.S. would request.
 
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, claimed in a statement on Friday that Khashoggi died during a fight inside the consulate.
 
Corker's statement is the latest sign of skepticism from members of Congress, who have urged the administration to respond with swift punishment if members of the Saudi government are found to be responsible for Khashoggi's death. 
 
In addition to widespread skepticism from Democrats, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said on Friday that the findings from the Saudi government are not "credible."

Trump told reporters during a trip to Arizona on Friday that he believed the kingdom's explanation was credible and he called the arrests of more than a dozen Saudi nationals in connection with the case a "good first step."

Corker had criticized the Trump administration earlier this week, saying they had "clamped down" on sharing intelligence about Khashoggi and canceled an intelligence briefing scheduled for Tuesday.