Democratic senator, Adam Schiff, who will lead the House intelligence committee when the US Congress returns in January, accused President Donald Trump of ‘being dishonest’ in his response to Jamal Khashoggi‘s murder, Al Jazeera reported.
Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate’s building in Istanbul on October 2 to obtain documentation certifying he had divorced his ex-wife. He was not seen since.
Turkish media have reported Khashoggi was killed and dismembered based on recordings from the consulate. They say he died at the hands of a 15-member assassination squad from Saudi Arabia.
Trump said earlier this week that a CIA report lacks evidence to blame Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of Khashoggi.
“I think the president is being dishonest with the American people,” Schiff said during an interview with CNN.
“It would be one thing if he said ‘this is what has happened but nonetheless we need to maintain a relationship with the kingdom, but that is not what he is doing,” Schiff said. “It telegraphs to despotes around the world they can murder with impunity and that this president will have their back as long as they praise them or do business with him.”
Mike Lee, a senator from Trump’s Republican party, called on Congress to take action.
Lee said on NBC’s Meet the Press that he disagreed with Trump’s allegations that information from US intelligence services do not implicate Prince Mohammed in the killing.
“I disagree with the president’s assessment. It’s inconsistent with the intelligence I’ve seen,” Lee said during the interview.
“I don’t know why he’s siding with the Saudis, but I think there are things we can do to change our relationship with the Saudis notwithstanding whatever his personal motivations might be,” Lee added. “But again, I think Congress has to take some ownership of US foreign policy.”
Lee added that he was certain that the next US Congress, which will be inaugurated in January, will look into Trump’s alleged ties to Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, a senior Saudi prince cast doubt on the reported CIA finding, saying the agency could not be counted on to reach a credible conclusion.
“The CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations. The examples of that are multitude,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, a senior member of the royal family, told journalists in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
The prince is a former Saudi intelligence chief who had also served as ambassador to the United States. He said the agency’s conclusion that Iraq possessed chemical weapons before the US invasion in 2003 showed it could be unreliable.
“I don’t see why the CIA is not on trial in the United States. This is my answer to their assessment of who is guilty and who is not and who did what in the consulate in Istanbul,” he said.