Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist's disappearance

Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist's disappearance
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE will be required to investigate the disappearance of journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi after a letter from senators that invoked sanctions legislation.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger RNC votes to give Trump 'undivided support' ahead of 2020 Sen. Risch has unique chance to guide Trump on foreign policy MORE (R-Tenn.), committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezActing Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange William Barr is right man for the times This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid wall fight MORE (D-N.J.) and Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamActing Defense chief calls Graham an 'ally' after tense exchange Five takeaways from McCabe’s allegations against Trump FBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it MORE (R-S.C.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBooker wins 2020 endorsement of every New Jersey Democrat in Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Can Bernie recapture 2016 magic? Leahy endorses Sanders for president MORE (D-Vt.), who lead the Appropriations Committee subpanel responsible for the State Department, sent a letter Wednesday to Trump requesting he initiate an investigation under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

The Magnitsky law requires that the president conduct an investigation after a request from the leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee into 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.

Under the law, the president has to report the findings back to the committee in 120 days, along with a decision on imposing sanctions on the person or persons responsible.

“Therefore, we request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi,” the senators wrote in their letter to Trump. “Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.”

The letter was co-signed by every member of the Foreign Relations Committee except Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 MORE (R-Ky.) Paul has separately vowed to force a vote on blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia the next time the administration notifies Congress of a sale.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor who has been highly critical of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, has not been seen since last week when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancée.

Turkish officials have claimed Khashoggi was murdered inside the consulate and dismembered. The Saudis have called the allegations “baseless,” holding that he left the consulate alive the same day he arrived.

Earlier Wednesday, Corker said that “everything right now points to Saudi Arabia” being involved, adding, “they’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”

Trump said Wednesday he spoke with Saudi officials about Khashoggi and that the White House has been in touch with the fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, to arrange a visit.

"It's a very sad situation, it's a very bad situation," Trump told reporters during a briefing in the Oval Office on Hurricane Michael.

"We cannot let this happen — to reporters, to anybody," he added.