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Home / Press Release / One Year After Khashoggi’s Murder, Trump Administration Continues to Cover for Saudi Leaders
September 30, 2019

One Year After Khashoggi’s Murder, Trump Administration Continues to Cover for Saudi Leaders

New York City— One year ago Wednesday, Saudi Arabian officials lured Saudi dissident, Virginia resident, and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi out of the United States, murdered him in cold blood, chopped up his body, and lied about it to the world. Despite the findings of both the U.S. intelligence community and U.N. investigators, the Trump Administration has continued to cover for Khashoggi’s killers.

In advance of the one-year anniversary of Khashoggi’s murder, Human Rights First’s Senior Vice President for Policy Rob Berschinski issued the following statement:

President Trump has never wavered from the view that Saudi leaders should be able to get away with murder because they buy American arms. The president has elevated the word of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) over that of America’s intelligence community, rejected bipartisan congressional calls to officially determine responsibility under the Global Magnitsky Act, and reportedly gone out of his way to conceal discussions with Saudi leaders.     

Khashoggi’s murder captured the world’s attention because it demonstrated the brazenness with which an American partner could plot and carry out the cold-blooded murder of a critic. A lack of meaningful accountability in the case will empower dictators around the world to feel they can assassinate journalists and dissidents with impunity. Cutting a blank check to a reckless partner will do nothing to improve regional security, while undermining American moral and strategic leadership.    

We should be clear: those who directed Khashoggi’s killing would not be getting away with murder were it not for the top cover they’ve received from the Trump Administration. Congress, however, can still right this wrong. A bipartisan provision of law that would impose accountability for Khashoggi’s murder is currently in final negotiations as part of the annual defense authorization bill. Lawmakers should send the provision to the president’s desk.     

On September 27, multiple media outlets reported that President Trump was so desperate to conceal his communications with MBS, and then-ambassador to the United States Khalid bin Salman in the wake of the murder that he directed reconstructed transcripts of the calls be improperly stored in the same super-classified system used to hold information about covert programs.  

Since Khashoggi’s murder, Human Rights First has documented facts regarding the killing, the Trump Administration’s attempts to cover for Saudi leaders, and Congress’ bipartisan demands for accountability. Over a dozen human rights organizations organized by Human Rights First have called on Congress to take action in the case. On Wednesday, October 2, Human Rights First will co-lead a vigil outside of Saudi Arabia’s Washington, D.C. embassy in commemoration of Khashoggi.  

For more information or to speak with Berschinski, contact Human Rights First at [email protected]