Both leading Democratic presidential candidates, on the eve of the New York primary, are throwing their support behind legislation that would allow victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks to sue the government of Saudi Arabia.
Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats worry negative images are defining White House Heller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll MORE and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks MORE (I-Vt.) have said they want the Senate to pass the bill, even if it means Saudi Arabia becomes angry with the U.S.
“Wherever the trail may lead, it should be followed,” Clinton, the former secretary of State, said on WABC radio on Monday. “We need justice."
On Sunday evening, Sanders said he also supports the bill.
The statements come ahead of the Tuesday presidential primary in New York, a target of the 9/11 attacks, where front-runner Clinton is heavily favored but nonetheless faces strong opposition from Sanders.
The bill, called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, would allow victims of 9/11 and other attacks on U.S. soil to sue sovereign nations that support the terrorism. Sens. John CornynJohn CornynAbbott bows to Trump pressure on Texas election audit Senate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Texas) and Charles SchumerChuck SchumerObama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda Schumer gets shoutout, standing ovation from crowd at Tony Awards MORE (D-N.Y.), who authored the bill, have said it would help 9/11 victims take legal recourse against Saudi Arabia or Qatar for funding groups such as al Qaeda.
Critics have long questioned Saudi Arabia’s role in the 2001 terror attacks. That scrutiny has only mounted in the years since the George W. Bush administration declined to release 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission’s report, which are rumored to claim that some levels of the government were complicit in the deadly attack on U.S. soil.
Sanders on Sunday evening said he supports making the 28 pages public.
“The families of those lost on that terrible day have the right to review any evidence that connects the hijackers to foreign supporters,” he said in a statement. “If no such connection exists, then our country deserves the information necessary to put that speculation behind us.”
The Hill has confirmed that Saudi Arabia has warned the Obama administration against supporting the bill and threatened to sell off U.S. assets if it is passed.
The posture, which was first reported by The New York Times over the weekend, injected new political wrinkles into the debate and comes at an inopportune time for President Obama. The president is set to land in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to begin a summit with Persian Gulf leaders.