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Senators warn Trump that Saudi relationship is on the line

Senators are making clear that key facets of the U.S.-Saudi relationship are on the road as they ramp up stress on the royal household and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump repeats claim without evidence that paid protesters disrupted his rallies Five takeaways from the final Tennessee Senate debate Trump rails against Dems at Pennsylvania rally as Hurricane Michael batters Florida MORE over the disappearance of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Prime Republican senators are hopeful the Trump administration will heed their warning and act on the Senate’s request for the White Home to conduct a statutorily required investigation into whether or not Saudi sanctions are wanted.

However some lawmakers are going a step additional by speaking a couple of potential clampdown on the military-to-military relationship that would come with nixing arms gross sales and withdrawing assist for the Saudi-led coalition combating in Yemen’s civil struggle.

“I believe the burden of proof is now on the Saudis to display that they weren’t individuals in any means in harming, killing or kidnapping Mr. Khashoggi,” stated Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineVirginia police release surveillance video from Jewish center vandalized with swastikas Police investigating DC-area Jewish center vandalized with 19 swastikas Kaine: FBI’s Kavanaugh investigation ‘a complete sham’ MORE (D-Va.), a member of the Senate International Relations Committee. “The burden of proof is on them. They acquired to point out it, and in the event that they don’t present it, I believe it should basically change the character of the connection.”

Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, has not been seen since Oct. 2 when he visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to get paperwork for his marriage to his Turkish fiancée.

Khashoggi was an insider of the Saudi royal courtroom earlier than he grew to become a fierce critic, notably of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He has been residing in self-imposed exile within the Washington, D.C., space since 2017 and writing columns for the Washington Publish, lots of which have criticized Prince Mohammed, who’s thought-about the day-to-day chief of Saudi Arabia.

Turkish officers say Khashoggi was murdered contained in the consulate and dismembered there. Saudi officers say that’s a baseless allegation and that he left the consulate alive the identical day he arrived.

Trump, who has fostered a very shut relationship with Saudi Arabia, has expressed concern about Khashoggi and pledged to search out out what occurred.

“Now we have investigators over there and we’re working with Turkey, and, frankly, we’re working with Saudi Arabia,” Trump stated Thursday on Fox Information. “We wish to discover out what occurred. He went in, and it does not appear to be he got here out. It definitely does not appear to be he is round.”

In his first journey overseas as president, Trump visited Riyadh and introduced plans to promote the $110 billion in weapons to the Saudis, casting it as a boon to U.S. trade.

Throughout further feedback on Thursday about Khashoggi, Trump dismissed the concept of abandoning that arms deal.

“We don’t prefer it, and we don’t prefer it even a bit of bit,” Trump instructed reporters within the Oval Workplace about Khashoggi’s disappearance. “However as as to if or not we should always cease $110 billion from being spent on this nation — realizing they’ve 4 or 5 alternate options, two of them superb alternate options — that will not be acceptable to me.”

In an effort to drive Trump to take motion, most members of the Senate International Relations Committee despatched him a letter Wednesday evening requesting he conduct an investigation below the World Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

That legislation, enacted after which expanded throughout the Obama administration, says the president should conduct an investigation if requested by the leaders of the International Relations Committee, after which report again to the panel on whether or not the U.S. will levy sanctions.

International Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerLive coverage: Blackburn, Bredesen clash in Tennessee Senate debate Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist’s disappearance MORE (R-Tenn.), who signed the letter, described the request for a Magnitsky investigation as a “fairly robust step.”

“They are going to be below immense stress, immense stress if it’s decided that Saudi Arabia was concerned to sanction fairly severely the individuals who have been concerned on this,” Corker stated of the administration.

Corker, who says he has reviewed U.S. intelligence on the difficulty, has spoken about Khashoggi’s destiny and Saudi accountability in more and more stark phrases over the previous few days.

He additionally instructed reporters Thursday that “all the things signifies” the Saudis murdered Khashoggi.

Corker indicated he wished the Magnitsky investigation to play out earlier than he would think about measures equivalent to halting arms gross sales or reducing off assist for the Saudis in neighboring Yemen. However he stated he doesn’t assume an arms sale would move Congress at the moment.

“I can guarantee you it gained’t occur for some time,” he stated of an arms sale. “I do know that Congress is not going to let this idly go by. That is one thing that enrages individuals, because it ought to.”

If the administration notifies Congress of a brand new arms sale to Saudi Arabia, lawmakers would have 30 days to dam it in the event that they resolve to take that aggressive step. International Relations Committee rating member Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTrump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints MORE (D-N.J.) in June placed a hold on any future U.S. arms gross sales to Saudi Arabia due to the struggle in Yemen, the place lawmakers are involved a couple of mounting civilian demise toll.

Menendez stated Thursday he sees a “rising sense” of assist within the Senate for curbing weapons gross sales to the Saudis, although stated it’s a “moot level” due to his maintain.

Menendez additionally warned the administration to take the Magnitsky investigation severely.

“I count on it to be a severe evaluate in that wherever it leads,” Menendez stated. “If the conclusion is that members of the Saudi authorities have been engaged within the disappearance and/or homicide of Mr. Khashoggi, there would be the penalties referred to as for below Magnitsky. We are able to’t let even an ally consider that they’ve carte blanche to do something they need.”

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump talked with Sessions aide about serving as attorney general: report Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist’s disappearance MORE (R-S.C.), a Trump ally who signed the International Relations Committee letter, stated he “completely” thinks the administration will take the investigation severely.

Graham in contrast the Saudis to Russian President Vladimir Putin and stated the US ought to take the identical punitive measures in opposition to the dominion because it has for Russia.

“We count on stuff like this from Putin, and we come down onerous on him when he does it. So all the things we did to Putin, I wish to do to Saudi Arabia,” Graham stated. “I’d unleash the sanctions from hell. These individuals care about, they dwell opulent life, they care about their pockets. I wish to make an instance of this authorities in the event that they did this in order that anyone else considering you can have an alliance and we don’t care about our values, you’ll be mistaken.”

However he stated he nonetheless doesn’t agree with ending U.S. assist for the Saudis within the Yemen struggle, saying the Khashoggi challenge and the Yemen struggle are “two various things.”

“The Yemen struggle is a proxy struggle with Iran,” he stated.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators demand answers on Trump administration backing of Saudi coalition in Yemen Missing journalist strains US-Saudi relationship MORE (D-Conn.), who beforehand teamed up with Sens. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senate blocks Dem measure on short-term health plans | Trump signs bill banning drug price ‘gag clauses’ | DOJ approves Aetna-CVS merger | Juul ramps up lobbying On The Money: Trump says ‘Fed has gone crazy’ after stock drop | Dow down over 800 points | Tech rout, interest rate fears drive market slide Bernie Sanders targets Facebook and Google on Kavanaugh MORE (I-Vt.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeTrump poised to sign bipartisan water infrastructure bill GOP senator says wife received video of beheading after Kavanaugh vote Senate sends bill regulating airline seat sizes to Trump MORE (R-Utah) to drive a vote on ending U.S. assist for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, stated one other Conflict Powers decision “definitely is an choice.”

“I’m very uncertain that the administration goes to make use of the Magnitsky Act to impose necessary sanctions, so I believe it’s going to be left to Congress to take some steps to verify Saudi Arabia understands there’s penalties,” Murphy stated.

Absent a notification to Congress on a brand new arms sale, he stated, concentrating on the Yemen struggle makes essentially the most sense as a spot for lawmakers to take motion.

“The Yemen marketing campaign relies on our perception that the Saudis are telling us the reality about their intention to bomb civilians,” he stated. “They’re principally probably not telling us the reality about what occurred contained in the consulate, so why would we consider them after they inform us they’re not deliberately bombing civilians in Yemen?”

The one member of the International Relations Committee who didn’t signal Wednesday’s letter to Trump was Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist’s disappearance Virginia Dem rips administration on Khashoggi MORE (R-Ky.).

Paul has individually vowed to drive a vote on blocking arms gross sales the subsequent time Congress is notified of 1. He additionally penned an op-ed Wednesday for The Atlantic saying he’ll introduce laws that will lower off U.S. army assist to the Saudis.

“This week, I intend to introduce one other measure to chop all funding, coaching, advising and another coordination to and with the army of Saudi Arabia till the journalist Jamal Khashoggi is returned alive,” he wrote.

“This oppressive regime have to be held accountable for its actions,” Paul added. “The US has no enterprise supporting it, both instantly or not directly.”


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