In contrast with the 45th president’s opinion about his apparent defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, some members of the legislative department’s Republican party continued to express their difference of opinion as they strengthened their stand following their belief in the investigation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that the same Saudi sovereign ordered the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) declared on a popular medium, “Meet the Press,” how he disagreed with President Trump’s evaluation.
“I disagree with the president’s assessment,” the senator said. “It is inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen…The intelligence I’ve seen suggests that this was ordered by the crown prince.”
It will be recalled that Lee has not been in congruence with Trump. To wit, the senator expressed his opposition with Trump over U.S. policy on Saudi Arabia as illustrated by U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition’s military campaign in Yemen.
It was learned how Human Rights groups have been most vocal against the Saudi-led coalition military campaign in Yemen.
The same agency of the United Nations stated how the Saudi role has lent a significant contribution to what has been called “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.”
Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is another legislator who, initially was identified as one who “sided” with Trump in the recent past, acknowledged that Saudi Arabia was a “great
strategic partner,” but quickly continued to state that the United States’ commitment to human rights and the rule of law requires Congress “absolutely to consider further action.”
“At such a time when it becomes necessary, the president also needs to speak directly to the Saudis and say enough’s enough,” Ernst pointed out. “And if there are indicators coming from those intelligence agencies, he also needs to be involved in some sort of action,” she stressed.
A bipartisan proposal in the Senate has stood out. It calls to “impose additional sanctions on Saudi Arabia and others considered to be “fomenting unrest in Yemen and to
stop the sale and transfer of all weapons to Saudi Arabia until the Yemen campaign is scaled back.”
Reportedly, a bipartisan pair of senators likewise have earnestly requested the Global Magnitsky Act which “enables sanctions over human rights offenses, to force Trump
to formally say within a few months whether he thinks Mohammed was responsible for Khashoggi’s death.”
Senator Lee hoped “mounting fury” at Saudi Arabia would morph into “an opportunity for the Congress” to weigh in and say: “Let’s halt our efforts in Yemen.”
“Congress has to take some ownership of U.S. foreign policy,” Lee emphasized.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) who co-sponsored a move with Lee early in the year to “end U.S. support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen,” stated that he thought more lawmakers would line up behind such an effort after Khashoggi’s killing.”
Reportedly, efforts in the House and the Senate to pass legislation that would “use the War Powers Act” to “curtail U.S. military and intelligence report for Saudi Arabia have
either fallen short or been stymied by leaders before they could ever get to the floor.”
Where does that leave the country’s lawmakers?
Does that leave our nation’s legislators with the option of launching investigations, something Ernst, the new appointee to the Senate Republican leadership, did endorse
“I do think we need to look into this further, and we need to understand when the investigations are leading us,” she said while stressing that she hoped “senators would
receive more briefings from intelligence officials on Mohammed’s role.”
In the House of Representatives, Democrats have promised to take up the Khashoggi matter when they take over the majority in 2019, and have “openly promised to question whether Trump’s defense of the crown prince is motivated by self-interest.”
Representative Adam B. Schiff (California) has asked: “Is his personal financial interest driving U.S. policy in the gulf? Is it driving US. policy vis-à-vis the Russians? We don’t
know, but it would be irresponsible not to find out.”
Still in reference to Trump, Schiff, a ranking member of the Democratic party, expected to be the new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, accused Trump of being
“dishonest” about the crown prince’s involvement.
“It telegraphs to despots around the world they can murder people with impunity and that this president will have their back as long as they praise him, as long as they do
business with him potentially. That cannot be the guiding principle behind our foreign policy,” Schiff strongly stated.
Another Democrat did strongly question whether or not Trump has a “soft spot for despots.”
The query came from Representative Maxine Waters, also from California.
“Why does Trump have such an affinity for murderous autocrats? He defends Vladimir Putin of Russia, fell in love w/Kim Jong Un of North Korea, admires Rodrigo Duterte
of the Philippines and now refuses to accept CIA findings that the Saudi Crown Prince ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi?”
Representative Waters is expected to serve as new chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
Both Waters and Schiff, it is hoped, will be in a position to look into Trump’s finances as related to Saudi Arabia and some other foreign government that have been alluded to
in the past since Trump’s assumption of the U.S. presidency in January 2017.