07.16.19

Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Murder Of Jamal Khashoggi

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings, Ms. Agnes Callamard, recently released her report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi after a six-month investigation.I encourage everyone to read the report, and I want to share several of her findings:

  1. Mr. Khashoggi was murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in an extrajudicial killing that violated numerous international laws and for which the Government of Saudi Arabia is responsible.
  2. There is credible evidence warranting further investigation of the liability of high-level Saudi officials, including the Crown Prince.
  3. Once Turkey publicly announced Mr. Khashoggi’s murder, the Saudi Government used consular immunity to obstruct Turkey’s investigation until the crime scene could be cleaned, and there are reasons to conclude that the destruction of evidence could not have taken place without the Crown Prince’s knowledge.
  4. Saudi officials falsely denied knowledge of Mr. Khashoggi’s murder for more than two weeks, and they continue to deny State responsibility.
  5. The trial of the suspects who have been charged in Saudi Arabia will not deliver justice or the whole truth.
  6. Jamal Khashoggi’s remains have yet to be located and turned over to his family.

Some have ignored the findings in the report, such as the lobbyists who continue to rake in millions of dollars from the Saudi Government have encouraged, and as the Trump Administration appears inclined to do.But disregard for the report does not change what happened.

And it bears repeating.A journalist was murdered by the Saudi Government in a manner that implicates officials at the highest level in the royal family.The Saudi Government engaged in a flagrant cover-up and continues to deny any responsibility.And the steps being taken to pursue justice are a sham.

After the report was released, the Saudi Foreign Minister dismissed its findings as not containing any new information – as if the murder, cover-up, and lack of accountability are irrelevant, since they were previously reported.

And while many of the summary findings in the report may not be new, they are supported by roughly 100 pages of detailed information, in which the Special Rapporteur and her team document official reports from the United States, Saudi, and Turkish Governments, they include quotes from interviews they conducted around the world, and they share excerpts of the gruesome intelligence information to which they had access.

Ms. Callamard presented the facts, her own conclusions and the methodology used to reach those conclusions, and she was clear about where there were limitations of her inquiry.The report reflects a meticulous and objective effort to find the truth.

For that reason, it also stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by the Saudi Government and the Trump Administration.

The Special Rapporteur also made several recommendations, including some that are directed specifically to the United States.They include the following:

  1. Open an FBI investigation into the murder of Mr. Khashoggi and pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States, as appropriate.
  2. Make a determination under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act regarding the responsibility of the Crown Prince.
  3. To the greatest extent possible consistent with national security, declassify materials relating to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.
  4. Hold congressional hearings on the responsibility of top Saudi officials, and demand access to the relevant classified materials.

Yet after Ms. Callamard’s report was released, President Trump – like the Saudi Foreign Minister – dismissed its findings, and he made clear that he intends to take no action in response to the report.

In addition, despite Secretary Pompeo’s repeated claim that the Administration is “committed to holding each individual accountable” in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the facts indicate the opposite.The Administration continues to refuse to adhere to its legal requirement under the Magnitsky Act to determine liability in the murder, including that of the Crown Prince.

In fact, President Trump has made no effort to conceal that the Administration’s complicity in protecting the Saudi royal family is linked to billions of dollars in sales of U.S. weapons to the Saudi Government.

During an interview shortly after the report was released, the President admitted to not raising the UN report with the Crown Prince, and said:“Saudi Arabia’s a big buyer of American products; that means something to me.”

Asked whether Saudi Arabia paid the right price for the United States “to look the other way,” President Trump said, “No.But I’m not like a fool that says, ‘We don’t want to do business with them… Take their money.”

According to President Trump, our relations with Saudi Arabia should not change regardless of the outcome of any investigation.

Think about that.The President is saying that no matter what the evidence shows – no matter how compelling the evidence implicating the Crown Prince in murder and obstruction of justice – that should not affect our relations with the Saudi Government.It is a shocking statement.

Instead, the Administration has limited its response to imposing sanctions only against individuals who reportedly carried out the murder, as well as a few other officials believed to have played a role in ordering or facilitating the operation, and has argued that by doing so it has fulfilled its commitment to pursuing justice.

It is the same as what the Saudi Government has done:claim to be holding the hitmen accountable while absolving the Saudi leadership – the royal family – of any responsibility.

Yet the Special Rapporteur has rightly emphasized that the pursuit of justice for Jamal Khashoggi and his family is about finding the truth.

Secretary Pompeo recently spoke about the need to ensure that our principles guide our policy.I share that view, but I have to wonder what he meant by that pious statement.

What principles was he talking about?There is no evidence the Administration is being guided by principle in the Khashoggi case.To the contrary, there is every reason to believe that this Administration has made a calculated decision to do the opposite.In fact, the President has said as much.

There should be nothing controversial about holding accountable a government that systemically represses and abuses its own people, that is currently arbitrarily detaining American citizens whom it has also reportedly tortured, that has repeatedly committed war crimes in Yemen that potentially implicate the United States, and that is responsible for the premeditated murder of a widely respected journalist.

I hope other Senators will join me in calling on the Trump Administration to lead the international community by example.Our government should put Special Rapporteur Callamard’s recommendations into practice, and urge other governments to do the same.

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