Top Dem demands State Department documents on Khashoggi killing

The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday demanded the State Department provide him any documents it has related to the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey last year.

The demand comes after the Trump administration did not adhere, as required by law, to Congress’s request for a determination on who is responsible for Khashoggi’s slaying and whether they should be sanctioned.


“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,” Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezPelosi warns Mnuchin to stop 'illegal' .3B cut to foreign aid House passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Senate panel advances bipartisan bill to lower drug prices amid GOP blowback MORE (D-N.J.) wrote Thursday in a letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Putin orders response to US missile test The Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? MORE.

“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.”

The CIA has reportedly concluded Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi’s death. Trump administration officials have publicly pushed back on those reports, and the crown prince has denied any involvement.

In December, the Senate passed a resolution naming Prince Mohammed “responsible” for the killing.

Last year, the Foreign Relations Committee sent President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE a letter invoking the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act that asked him to determine whether members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Mohammed, were responsible for killing Khashoggi and should be sanctioned.

The Magnitsky law requires the president to conduct an investigation after a request from the leaders of the committee and report back in 120 days.

The 120-day deadline came Friday. Pompeo sent lawmakers a letter on that day that member of both parties have said failed to follow the requirements of the Magnitsky law.

“There is nothing in the statute that makes compliance with the law voluntary or conditional,” Menendez wrote Thursday. “Your letter exacerbates the fears that this administration continues to hide something when it comes to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.”

Pompeo has previously pushed back on congressional criticism that the handling of Magnitsky request is helping cover up a crime.

“America is not covering up for a murder,” he said Monday. “America has taken more action in response to the tragic murder of Jamal Khashoggi and will continue to take more action, continue our investigation.”

In his Thursday letter, Menendez demanded the State Department “immediately” provide its legal determination that is it not required to submit a report under the Magnitsky Act.

He also requested a slew of documents by Feb. 28, saying “it is also clear we cannot rely only on the statements of the administration on this matter.”

Among the eight categories of documents Menendez asked for are all records in the State Department’s possession or control on whether any foreign person is responsible for Khashoggi’s death and whether any member of the royal family, including Prince Mohammed, is responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

“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,” Menendez wrote. “In the meantime, I look forward to your full compliance with these requests."