WASHINGTON – Democrats will investigate whether President Donald Trump has financial ties with Saudi Arabia that colored his response to the killing of a U.S.-based journalist, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said.
“Is his personal financial interest driving U.S. policy in the Gulf?” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. “We don’t know, but it would be irresponsible not to find out,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Schiff presumably will become chairman of the committee in January.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in line to lead the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “it’s definitely something that we need to look into.”
Several news organizations including the Washington Post and New York Times have reported that the CIA concluded that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, carried out at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. But Trump has said the findings aren’t definitive, and has instead emphasized the Saudi leader’s denials.
Trump has also said he won’t let the killing jeopardize U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, citing the potential effect on oil prices and on weapons deals with the kingdom. And he’s denied having any financial dealings with the Gulf nation.
In 2015, Trump boasted of his ties with Riyadh. “Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Alabama.
Schiff, who said he’s been briefed by the CIA on the matter, accused the president of misleading the American public about Khashoggi’s killing.
“While I can’t discuss the contents of the briefing in any way, I can say that I think the president is being dishonest with the American people,” Schiff said.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he disagrees with Trump’s assessment, and that “intelligence I’ve seen suggests that this was ordered by the crown prince.”
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said on CNN that Khashoggi’s killing needed further investigation.
“If there any indicators that the prince was involved in the murder, then we need absolutely to consider further action,” Ernst said.
Trump’s decision to not punish the Saudis beyond sanctioning individuals alleged to have participated directly in killing Khashoggi has triggered a backlash from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
©2018 Bloomberg News
Visit Bloomberg News at www.bloomberg.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.