Dem Senator: Congress will act on death of Saudi journalist
Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), a senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday said Congress would take action in response to the disappearance and death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“There’s going to be consequences and we’re going to take action. We’re an independent branch of government. We’ve shown that before with our relationship with Russia, we’ve shown it with North Korea and we’ll show it here with Saudi Arabia,” Cardin told CNN.
“What we want the president to do is not only take action, we want his language to be very clear that America will not tolerate this type of behavior,” Cardin added.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another member of the Foreign Relations panel, said Tuesday that lawmakers would act.
“I can tell you that a separate branch of government that I belong to, the Senate, the Congress, I believe will act in a bipartisan way and this is going to alter the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia for the foreseeable future,” Rubio told CNN in an earlier interview.
Cardin and Rubio have recently discussed possible action with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee.
President Trump over the weekend vowed there would be “severe punishment” if the Saudi government was found to be responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.
But Trump later defended a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the top-ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations panel, has put on hold.
Cardin faulted Trump for not condemning violations of human rights by foreign leaders with whom he’s negotiating.
“The United States acts first by the language the president uses to uphold our basic principles and President Trump has not done that,” he said.
Trump told reporters Monday morning that Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud “firmly denied any knowledge” of what happened to Khashoggi.
He also suggested that the 15 Saudi agents who entered Turkey when Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey may have been rogue operators.
“It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers,” the president said. “Who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon. But his was a flat denial.”
The president’s comments were reminiscent of remarks he made earlier this year at a summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, when Trump gave Putin’s denial of interference in the 2016 election equal weight with U.S. intelligence findings that Russia meddled.
Saudi officials later said, however, that they are preparing to admit Khashoggi died at their consulate during a botched interrogation.
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