Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on both sides of the aisle voiced their opposition to President Donald Trump’s proclamation of support for the Saudis, demanding answers into Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) specific involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) penned a letter to Trump on Tuesday asking the administration to do more to clarify what happened to Khashoggi. Specifically, they want an answer within 120 days into whether MBS is responsible.
“In light of recent developments, including the Saudi government’s acknowledgment that Saudi officials killed Mr. Khashoggi in its Istanbul consulate, we request that your determination specifically address whether Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman is responsible for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder,” they wrote in the letter.
In a statement released Tuesday, Trump reinforced the strength of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, noting that Khashoggi’s murder may forever remain shrouded in mystery, despite the fact that the CIA reportedly was able to directly link MBS to the incident.
“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi,” Trump said in the statement. “In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!”
The backlash from many Republican Senators was swift:
Khashoggi was reported missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish authorities determined that he was tortured, dismembered and beheaded inside.
After initially denying responsibility, MBS later acknowledged that Saudi officials were involved in the killing, though he never took any personal blame. A Saudi prosecutor is also seeking the death penalty for five out of the 11 suspects charged.