02.14.19

Menendez And Leahy, Joined By Other Senators, Ask Sec. Pompeo For Briefing On Adm.’s Failure To Comply With Magnitsky Act, About Saudis’ Role In Khashoggi Murder

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee; and all Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter today formally requesting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brief Congress on why the Trump Administration refused to comply with a legal requirement to determine whether Saudi government officials and members of the Royal Family, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

“The administration’s response thus far to a brutal killing of a U.S. lawful permanent resident and a journalist makes a mockery of the United States’ commitment to human rights and its efforts to demand accountability for extrajudicial killings around the world,” wrote the senators before listing a series of questions to be answered by Secretary Pompeo.

Joining Menendez and Leahy in today’s letter were Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.). “The United States must continue to reaffirm our guiding principles of transparency, accountability, and human rights. Our moral leadership on the global stage is critical. We cannot let egregious acts to go unanswered,” added the senators.  

Today’s letter comes as a follow up to an October 2018 letter in which 22 senators made an official request, pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act, that the President make the determination required by law concerning the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The senators concluded today’s letter by demanding the administration comply with the law and immediately brief Congress on it’s the status of its handling of the Khashoggi murder.

The text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. Secretary,

We are writing to follow up on the request of last October from the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with 20 other Senators, for the President to make a determination of responsibility for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights and Accountability Act (Global Magnitsky Act). That law requires you to determine whether a foreign person is responsible for gross violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings, and to report to Congress on the imposition of sanctions for such a violation. Your Administration is currently not in compliance with that statutory requirement, and we urge you to fix the situation immediately.  

Since the October letter, a number of stunning details have emerged regarding Mr. Khashoggi’s death. Moreover, according to public reports, U.S. intelligence officials have assessed with high confidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing. The U.N. special rapporteur investigating the killing has found that his death was not only premediated but “planned and perpetrated” by Saudi officials.  The Senate passed a resolution unanimously naming Mohammed Bin Salman as responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

The United States must continue to reaffirm our guiding principles of transparency, accountability, and human rights. Our moral leadership on the global stage is critical. We cannot let egregious acts to go unanswered.

The administration’s response thus far to a brutal killing of a U.S. lawful permanent resident and a journalist makes a mockery of the United States’ commitment to human  rights and its efforts to demand accountability for extrajudicial killings around the world.

We acknowledge that the President has imposed sanctions on seventeen Saudi nationals believed to be connected to the killing, some of whom have high positions within the government. However, these designations reflect the Saudi government’s own investigation, which is shrouded in secrecy.

The administration must immediately comply with its obligations under the Global Magnitsky Act and specifically update Congress on its efforts, including by responding to the following questions:

  1. What steps has the administration taken to make any determination that any foreign person is responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi and to comply with the Global Magnitksy Human Rights Accountability Act?
  2. What information, specifically, has the administration considered or sought to obtain regarding the role of senior Saudi officials, including the Crown Prince, in the death of Jamal Khashoggi?
  3. What has the administration done, specifically, to obtain information regarding the death of Jamal Khashoggi from other countries and nongovernmental organizations that monitor violations of human rights?
  4. What evidence does the administration possess regarding the cause of or circumstances surrounding the death of Jamal Khashoggi?
  5. To what extent did the administration consider the information submitted by the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including the letters of October 10, 2018 and November 21, 2018?
  6. On what legal basis, if any, does the administration assert that it is not required to submit a report to Congress under Section the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act?
  7. What steps has the administration taken to work with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions?

Sincerely,

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