Trump Continues to Protect Saudi Prince, Defying Congressional Action
The Washington Post said in its editorial on Friday that President Donald Trump’s administration has gone beyond legal limits many times in resisting accountability before Congress, especially with regard to Trump’s trial last year and the issue of holding the killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was assassinated in 2018 in his country’s consulate, in Istanbul.
The newspaper pointed out that the Trump administration is pursuing a method of procrastination in the interest of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and that a majority of the two parties in Congress sought to demand the American administration to hold bin Salman and the rest of the people involved in the Khashoggi assassination, which was carried out by a Saudi team, as the CIA concluded, with moderate to high confidence.
It explained that, days after Khashoggi’s killing, 22 senators relied on the Magnitsky Act to demand the White House identify those involved in the extrajudicial killing and submit a report to Congress on whether to punish the party involved in the killing of the Saudi journalist.
Congress has set a legal deadline for the Trump administration to respond to February 8, 2019, but the White House ignored that deadline.
Insistence to break the law
The newspaper reported that the Trump administration’s failure to comply with the congressional request prompted another joint bipartisan committee in Congress to attach an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last year, to demand again a non-confidential report of the names of former or current Saudi officials involved in the Khashoggi killing and their prior knowledge of the crime and their role, while specifying who “Overseeing, ordering, or tampering with evidence” in the assassination.
It pointed out that it is impossible to prepare the report requested by Congress without mentioning the name of Mohammed bin Salman, whose needs President Trump has been working on since the Kingdom celebrated him lavishly early in his assumption of the presidency, and therefore the Trump administration refused once again to comply with an unambiguous legal requirement. Citing that providing the required report may endanger intelligence sources.
The Washington Post believed that the White House’s reluctance to respond to the repeated demands of Congress regarding the public report confirms Trump’s willingness to violate US law instead of confirming the involvement of an authoritarian Saudi ruler in the assassination of a prominent journalist residing in the United States, according to the newspaper’s words.
It stated that a civil society organization in the United States had referred the matter to a federal court, where it filed a case with a New York court demanding that the report on Khashoggi’s assassination be issued under the Freedom of Information Act.
The organization had applied for the report in July under the Freedom of Information Act but had received no response to that request by the legal deadline.
The newspaper concluded that the lawsuit would reveal the repeated lies of Trump and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo when they stated that it is not known whether Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, and will also establish a long-awaited change in the US policy towards the Saudi crown prince. And his system, perhaps in time for a new administration.