Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the U.S. is still probing the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and insisted that the investigation has been transparent.
“America’s not covering up for a murder. America’s taken more actions in response to the tragic murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and will continue to take more actions and continue our investigation,” Pompeo told reporters during his trip to Budapest, Hungary. “We are working diligently on that. The president has been very clear – couldn’t be more clear – as we get additional information, we will continue to hold all of those responsible accountable.”
Khashoggi, a former adviser to the Saudi government who had become a blistering critic of the ruling royal family as a Washington Post columnist living in the U.S., was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. He had entered the consulate to finalize divorce paperwork so he could marry his fiancée.
A number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have persisted in their demands that the administration confirm with certainty whether the Saudi government ordered Khashoggi’s killing. But last week the White House flouted a February 8 deadline set by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asking it to do just that, sparking outrage from Congress.
Over the weekend, Senator Tim Kaine, a Democratic member of the Committee, charged the administration with turning a “blind eye” to evidence suggesting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave the order for the murder.
“This amounts to the Trump Administration aiding in the cover up of a murder,” Kaine said in a Sunday statement. “America should never descend to this level of moral bankruptcy.”
“Senator Kaine is just dead wrong,” Pompeo said Monday. “He’s just flat-out wrong.”
“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,” said another Committee member, Democrat Patrick Leahy.
“Everyone involved in this gruesome crime must be identified and held accountable,” said Representative Michael McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “When the United States fails to lead, we compromise our integrity and abandon those pursuing justice around the world.”