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US Democrats vow Congressional probe into Trump-Saudi Arabia ties

Legislator says Congress will investigate Trump’s response to Khashoggi’s killing when Democrats take control of House. NEWS / SAUDI ARABIA

Trump says the US intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia [File: Kevin Dietch/EPA]
US legislators from the Democratic Party have vowed to investigate President Donald Trump’s response to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The incoming head of the US House intelligence committee Adam Schiff said on Friday that the body would conduct a “deep dive” into ties between the US and Saudi Arabia.

The committee will investigate the US intelligence assessment of Khashoggi’s death as well as the war in Yemen, the stability of the Saudi royal family and the kingdom’s treatment of critics and the press, Schiff told the Washington Post newspaper.

“Certainly we will be delving further into the murder of Khashoggi,” Schiff said. “We will certainly want to examine what the intelligence community knows about the murder.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Schiff, who is currently the most senior Democrat on the committee, is set to become chairman in January when his party takes control of the US House of Representatives, following gains in this month’s congressional elections.

It will allow Democrats increased powers to conduct oversight of Trump and his administration, including the ability to hold hearings, investigate and issue subpoenas.

Trump has dismissed the CIA’s reported assessment that Khashoggi’s killing was ordered by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman .

Khashoggi, who lived in self-imposed exile in the US, was critical of the crown prince in his columns for the Washington Post.

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The writer was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, where he had been due to pick up documents related to an upcoming marriage.

On Thursday, Trump expressed doubts about the CIA’s findings, saying that the agency “did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings certain ways.”

Saudi King Salman and Prince Mohammed “vehemently denied” any role in the killing, Trump said.

Schiff said his panel will examine the CIA’s findings as well as whether Trump’s private financial relationship with the Saudis influenced his response as president.

“There are a whole set of potential financial conflicts of interest and emoluments problems that congress will need to get to the bottom of,” Schiff said. “If foreign investment in the Trump businesses is guiding US policy in a way that’s antithetical to the country’s interests, we need to find out.”

Trump, who still owns his business as president but has said he relinquished day-to-day control, told a rally in 2015 he earned “hundreds of millions” of dollars from Saudi purchases.

Trump has defended his stance towards Saudi Arabia, a key US ally in the Middle East, citing US arms deals with Riyadh and the larger US strategy towards Iran.


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