Congressional Republicans charge Trump with violating the law as he continues to cover up for the Saudi prince

Congressional Republicans charge Trump with violating the law as he continues to cover up for the Saudi prince
Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

When Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered and dismembered with a bone saw in the Saudi consulate, America reacted with horror. At the time, then-Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) triggered a Magnitsky Act investigation, requiring President Donald Trump to determine who is responsible.

The problem? With the 120-day deadline coming up, Trump has told Republican senators he intends not to produce the Magnitsky Act report to Congress as required by law. And according to POLITICO, many Republican senators are outraged:

"It's not a good way to start the new Congress in its relationship with the Foreign Relations Committee," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the panel, in an interview. "It violates the law. And the law is clear about those timelines. I'm urging them and I expect them to comply with the law."

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, a vulnerable Republican who faces re-election in 2020, said "the administration needs to submit the report," adding: "There's no excuse. They must submit it."

On Friday, the Trump administration said it reserved the right to decline lawmakers' demand under the Magnitsky Act that the president report to Congress with a determination of who is responsible for Khashoggi's October slaying inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The lack of a conclusion from Trump, for the record, is not for want of a lead. The Turkish government, the CIA, and the United Nations agree that the killing was carried out by officials from the Saudi regime, and almost certainly on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Trump, however, has a peculiar soft spot for the prince, saying that he "stands with" him and takes him at his word that he didn't do it.

The Senate GOP, on the other hand, feels differently. They joined with Democrats in a unanimous resolution condemning the prince for his role in the murder. And with an upcoming Democratic resolution to suspend support for the Saudi-led coalition waging a brutal war in Yemen, there is every possibility some members of the GOP could vent its displeasure against Trump by crossing the aisle to support it.

The Magnitsky Act was first passed in 2012, as a way of launching targeted sanctions at Kremlin officials responsible for the killing of Russian lawyer and whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky, who died after being beaten in a Russian prison in 2009 following his exposure of tax fraud by local oligarchs. It has evolved into a means of targeting foreign individuals accused of human rights crimes, by blocking them from accessing U.S. banks or entering the country.

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