US President Donald Trump has ignored a deadline by Congress to determine who ordered the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and whether he intends to impose sanctions on Riyadh, prompting an angry backlash on Capitol Hill.
The Trump administration signaled on Friday it was unlikely to meet the congressional deadline, amid new revelations that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince spoke of going after the journalist “with a bullet.”
“Consistent with the previous administration’s position and the constitutional separation of powers, the president maintains his discretion to decline to act on congressional committee requests when appropriate,” a senior administration official said.
“The US Government will continue to consult with Congress and work to hold accountable those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing.”
The US president was given 120 days by Congress to report on those responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.
The brutal murder of the journalist was met with widespread condemnation and ruined the reputation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known in media as “MBS” , who is accused of having ordered the killing.
Many members of Congress have publicly acknowledged that based on CIA’s secret reports they remained convinced that the Saudi prince was responsible for Khashoggi’s killing.
Now, some lawmakers say they intend to push for the punishment of the Saudis, not only for killing Khashoggi, but also, for launching a deadly conflict in Yemen.
“The administration’s refusal to deal with this issue and keep Congress informed underscores the need to get to the bottom of what is motivating the Trump foreign policy,” Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.
Trump, for his part, has said that despite the news regarding Khashoggi’s murder, he still supports the Saudi ruler and wants the kingdom’s purchases of weapons to remain in place.