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 TrumpSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Pelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' Trump 'no longer angry' at Romney because of Supreme Court stance 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 CorkerHas Congress captured Russia policy? Tennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump MORE (R-Tenn.), committee ranking member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezKasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage MORE (D-N.J.) and Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSteele Dossier sub-source was subject of FBI counterintelligence probe Hillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns Key Democrat opposes GOP Section 230 subpoena for Facebook, Twitter, Google MORE (R-S.C.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBipartisan representatives demand answers on expired surveillance programs Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Battle over timing complicates Democratic shutdown strategy 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.

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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 Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Rand Paul says he can't judge 'guilt or innocence' in Breonna Taylor case Overnight Health Care: Health officials tell public to trust in science | Despair at CDC under Trump influence | A new vaccine phase 3 trial starts 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.

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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.