Congress headed for a confrontation with President Trump on Sunday on sanctions against Saudi Arabia for the assassination of a dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, faced with growing bipartisan criticism of the president's reluctance to blame the Saudi royal family.
Senator Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat and member of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declared sanctions against Saudi Arabia are "probably the most appropriate step" after Trump passed a deadline set by Congress on Friday for reporting responsibility for the murder of Khashoggi.
"Congress do not have to wait for the president to fulfill his duty ", Mr. Murphy on Good King News's "State of the Union". "We can only decide for ourselves that [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman ordered these murders and there should be some kind of punishment and repercussions for that. "
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, presented a bill on Friday banning certain arms sales to Riyadh in response to KhashoggiMurder last October by Saudi agents and his role in the civil war in Yemen.
"Considering that the Trump administration does not intend to insist on the full responsibility of Mr. KhashoggiThe killers, it's time to Congress intervene and impose real consequences to fundamentally reexamine our relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, "Menendez said in a statement.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir said after meeting with lawmakers on Friday that Congress should await the outcome of the trials of 17 alleged assailants of Khashoggi, including five men punishable by death. He said that imposing sanctions now would "put the cart before the horse"
"I wish that Congress would take a step back, "he said.
Mr. Al Jubeir insisted that the Crown Prince, who is the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, did not allow the murder. He called the massacre a "dishonest operation".
"No order has been given to carry out this operation," he said, describing the assassination of the dissident as a "serious mistake".
Khashoggi, an American resident and columnist for The Washington Post, was murdered last October at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, by the Saudi asset team. His body was not found.
US intelligence concluded that the Crown Prince had at least knowledge of the plot.
Al Jubeir called on the US critic of the Saudi leadership "a red line".
"I think anyone who thinks they can dictate what we should do or what our leaders should do is absurd," he said.
A group of bipartisan senators sent a letter to Mr. Trump in October, calling for an investigation and decision on sanctions under the Magnitsky Global Human Rights Law, which aims to punish government officials foreigners for violations of human rights.
The 120-day deadline for the president's response was Friday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo instead sent a letter to Congress stating that the President "retains his discretion to refuse to comply with congressional committee requests, if any".
Mr Pompeo noted that the administration had imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals suspected of involvement in the murder.
Republican Michael McCaul, a senior representative of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, joined the Democrats in criticizing Trump's failure to send a report to the Commission. Congress. Mr. McCaul said he was "deeply troubled" by the fact that the administration ignored the delay.
He added that the letter of the administration did not meet the requirements of the law, as requested by the chairpersons of the commissions last October, including the Senate Speaker for Foreign Affairs, Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee.
"JamalThe killing is appalling, "said McCaul." The lesson of this terrible event must be that the intimidation and violence of any government against peaceful dissent will be met with deep disapproval by the responsible nations. All those involved in this horrific crime must be identified and held accountable, and when the United States fails to take the lead, we compromise our integrity and forsake those who seek justice around the world. "
"The law requires that the president and senior member of the commission for external relations ask the president to rule on a violation of human rights abroad, he must respond," Mr. Murphy I said. "So [the president] there is no option here. Now, I understand why he does not want to make that decision. His intelligence services tell him that Mohammed bin Salman was responsible and, because of a personal relationship with him or a business relationship with him Saudi Arabiahe refuses to make this finding to Congress. "