President Trump is not meeting the Feb. 7 deadline to determine who is responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s death. It’s a congressional deadline originating from the Global Magnitsky Act, which gave the president 120 days to make the determination and state whether the U.S. intends to impose sanctions on any person or persons deemed responsible.
A bipartisan group of senatorsin October triggering an investigation under the Global Magnitsky Act on whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the death of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who was murdered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October.
Mr. Trump was supposed to declare “whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression,” according to the letter, by Feb. 7. The National Security Council maintains that the State Department will make the call on this, according to CBS News senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Brennan. The White House is treating the letter more as a request than a requirement, as it pertains to assigning responsibility.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, one of the senators who sent the letter in October, released a statement Friday condemning the White House for not taking action.
“If the President ignores the clear mandate of the Magnitsky Act in a case involving premeditated murder perpetrated by officials of a foreign government, the White House will share the blame for attempting to cover up the crime and for helping those responsible to evade justice,” Leahy wrote.
A senior White House official provided a statement for CBS News, saying: “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. The U.S. Government will continue to consult with Congress and work to hold accountable those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing.”
The U.S. Treasury Department announced aagainst 17 Saudi Arabians in November. Many in Congress are seeking to impose further sanctions on Saudi officials.