Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
As President Donald Trump continues to provide cover for Saudi Arabia while making no moves to hold the kingdom accountable for the suspected murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Democratic senators have demanded records detailing any and all financial ties the president has with the Saudis.
Noting that the Trump Organization’s longtime business relationships with the Saudi government and royal family are well-known and a matter of public record, 11 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter on Wednesday demanding information on whether the Saudis have given the president anything of monetary value since he was elected in 2016—a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause—and whether Trump has discussed potential investments with the kingdom since announcing his campaign in 2015.
“It is imperative that [the administration’s] sanctions determination, and U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia generally, are not influenced by any conflicts of interest that may exist because of your or your family’s deep financial ties to Saudi Arabia,” reads the letter, which was signed by lawmakers including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
On Thursday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emerged from the White House after briefing the president on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey and offered the latest evidence that the administration is not at all interested in holding their ally to account for the alleged assassination of the dissident journalist.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he told President Trump the US should give Saudi Arabia “a few more days to complete” the investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi pic.twitter.com/hUY2rrDuOK
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 18, 2018
The letter was sent a day after the president scolded the Turkish government, the news media, and the international community for suggesting that the Saudis were behind Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Evidence of a murder by Saudi operatives has mounted since his disappearance, with Turkish officials saying an audio recording reveals that Khashoggi was beaten upon entering the consulate, and an investigation inside the building uncovering the fingerprints of a key member of the suspected “hit team” in the case.
The Democrats’ demands also coincided with a wire transfer of $100 million that was sent to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday night—a payment that one U.S. official told the New York Times was “no coincidence.”
While Trump said Tuesday that he has “no financial interests in Saudi Arabia,” he has boasted in the recent past that he makes “a lot of money from” the kingdom. In their letter, the Democrats wrote that Trump referenced multi-million dollar properties the Saudis have bought from his company, at a rally in Mobile, Alabama in August 2015.
The president’s clear financial ties to the Saudis—and his repeated lies about the entanglements—amount to an explicit “violation of his oath of office,” wrote columnist Charles P. Pierce at Esquire on Thursday.
“Right now, at this moment, it appears that the President* of the United States is assisting a foreign government in a conspiracy to obstruct justice in the political murder of a resident of the United States, and it is fair to say that he’s doing so because to do otherwise would be detrimental to his personal business interests,” Pierce wrote in summation.
With evidence that the Saudis have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent months at the president’s hotels, from which he has not divested his financial interests, Pierce added, Trump is unquestionably violating the Constitution.
And moreover, he wrote, “There is also absolutely no question that this hedging about the murderous Saudi royalty—for reasons that very likely have as much or more to do with his business interests as they do with oil or some vague threat from Iran—is precisely what the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution was designed to prevent.”
Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.