- Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters
- Republican Sen. Bob Corker on Thursday said “there is no question” that Saudi Arabia killed Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- “I think they did it and unfortunately I think he is deceased,” Corker said.
- Corker is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- Corker and a bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday invoked a law requiring President Donald Trump to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance.
Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN reporter Manu Raju that “intel points directly” to the Saudis for Khashoggi’s recent disappearance.
“I think they did it and unfortunately I think he is deceased,” Corker said. “But they certainly could produce him and change the narrative.”
This comes a day after Corker and a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President Donald Trump invoking the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016. This requires the president to investigate Khashoggi’s disappearance and report back to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the findings and how he plans to react within 120 days.
“We request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi,” the senators wrote. “Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia.”
Today, we sent a letter to the administration triggering an investigation and Global Magnitsky sanctions determination regarding the disappearance of Saudi journalist and @washingtonpost columnist #JamalKhashoggi. pic.twitter.com/reqXtmqfJt
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) October 10, 2018
The letter opens the door for sanctions to be imposed against Saudi Arabia.
Trump on Wednesday expressed a reluctance to punish the Saudis, especially in terms of reducing US arms sales.
“Well, I think that would be hurting us,” he said to Fox News on the subject of stopping or reducing arms sales to the Saudis. “I think that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country.”
Khashoggi disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month and is feared dead. Turkish officials have accused the Saudis of killing Khashoggi, dismembering his body, and flying it back to Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi had been writing for The Washington Post and was a US resident. He was often critical of the Saudi government in his writings and left his native country last year amid concerns about crackdowns on dissent.
Saudi Arabia’s government has said that claims it’s responsible for Khashoggi’s disappearance or death are “baseless.”