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Bob Corker slams Trump’s ‘clampdown’ on intel about Jamal Khashoggi

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bob corker
Bob Corker.
AP Photo/J.
Scott Applewhite


  • Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said
    Thursday that the Trump administration must end its “clampdown”
    on intelligence about the alleged torture and murder of
    journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudis. 
  • Corker said a White House official this
    week prevented him from viewing recent intelligence
    related to Khashoggi’s disappearance. 
  • A bipartisan group of senators has called on the president to
    impose economic sanctions and suspend some arms sales to the
    oil-rich Middle Eastern nation.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said Thursday
that the Trump administration must end its “clampdown” on
intelligence about the
alleged torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

by the Saudis. 

Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is retiring from office
this year, told
Politico
on Thursday that he was prevented by a White House
official this week from viewing recent intelligence related to
Khashoggi’s disappearance from the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on
October 2. He said that he and other lawmakers have only been
provided with week-old information. 

And Corker argued that the president will need to take a
public stand on whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman —
who Trump has worked closely with — is to blame for Khashoggi’s
apparent murder. 

“This is going to come to a head in a very short amount of
time. This isn’t getting better over time. It seems to me over
the next week or so people are going to know more about what
happened,” Corker said. 

He went on, “I don’t think the administration can allow
this to squirrel around too much longer without taking a
definitive position.”

Trump on Thursday said it “looks” like Khashoggi is dead,
but has refused to lay blame on any party, and has instead spent
the last several days
defending the Saudis

“I think we’ll be making a statement, a very strong statement,”
Trump said. “We’re waiting for the results of about three
different investigations and we should be able to get to the
bottom fairly soon.”

Senate lawmakers, including some Republicans, are pushing back on
Trump’s posture, urging the president to impose economic
sanctions and suspend some arms sales to the oil-rich Middle
Eastern nation. 

Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida
Republican, 

said
this week

 that the president should consider
canceling some arms deals, while Sen. Lindsey Graham during a Fox
News interview on 

Tuesday
called bin Salman a “wrecking ball”

 and urged
Trump to “sanction the hell out of” the Saudi government.

Graham added that he believes Saudi leaders ordered
Khashoggi’s murder and said he felt “used and abused” by the
country’s government, which he has actively supported in the
Senate. 

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy on Wednesday told Business Insider
that President Donald Trump’s overall response
to Khashhoggi’s alleged murder and
subservient behavior toward Saudi Arabia has made the US look
“weaker” than ever.

“It seems like the Saudis are the dominant partner in this
relationship, which is absolutely ridiculous,” said Murphy, a key
Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I don’t know
that our country has looked weaker than in the last week.”

This comes amid growing evidence —
including 

audio
recordings released by the Turkish media

— that a
delegation of Saudi officials tortured, killed, and dismembered
Khashoggi with a bone saw.

Trump has resisted intensifying calls to condemn the regime
and instead 

defended
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

 from the
charges and emphasized that Khashoggi — a Virginia resident —
isn’t a US citizen.

The president has stressed the importance of the US’s financial
ties with Saudi Arabia, calling the Middle Eastern
nation an
“important ally,”
while citing tens of billions of dollars in
US-Saudi arms deals. (Other US presidents, including Barack
Obama, have also continued arms sales to governments with poor
records on human rights).

John Haltiwanger contributed to this report.

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