Trump Could Ignore a Congressional Deadline Determining Whether Saudi Arabia Is Responsible for Khashoggi’s Death

February 8, 2019, 8:34 PM UTC

President Donald Trump has until the end of Friday to determine whether new sanctions should be imposed on Saudi Arabia due to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but he may opt to ignore the matter altogether, Bloomberg reports.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to the White House in October to demand Khashoggi’s death be investigated and determine whether these new sanctions would be necessary. Trump has not yet responded to the request, and—according to an official who spoke to Bloomberg—he doesn’t have to.

While the deadline for a response is Friday, the White House has the power to ignore congressional committee requests when the president deems it appropriate.

Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, told Bloomberg he is not aware of any U.S. investigation into the Khashoggi murder.

“We have said that we will investigate and we have. We have said that those responsible will be held accountable,” al-Jubeir reportedly said, noting that the Saudi government has already charged 11 people in connection to the murder. “We’re saying let the legal process play out and then judge us when it is complete. But don’t judge us before this is complete.”

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and prominent critic of Saudi Arabian leadership, was killed within the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October. The U.S. Senate issued a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi’s murder in December, following a CIA report concluding his responsibility.

Trump, however, has been reluctant to speak ill of the crown prince, repeatedly citing a $110 billion arms deal as the reason for maintaining positive relations with Saudi Arabia.

“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump wrote in a November statement. “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”