Trump nominees for Saudi and Iraq ambassadors face grilling as Senators demand more answers on Khashoggi murder

President still refuses to implicate Saudi crown prince in journalist's murder, angering Republican senators

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 06 March 2019 15:33
Comments
Republican senator Lindsey Graham says Saudi Crown Prince complicit in murder of Jamal Khashoggi 'to the highest level possible'

Donald Trump’s nominees to become the next US ambassadors to Saudi Arabia and Iraq are scheduled to meet with lawmakers during confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill this week.

The hearings arrive a day after the Senate was provided new details about the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi during closed-door meetings on Tuesday afternoon.

Khashoggi, whose disappearance after entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year sparked a global outcry against the Saudi government and its reported involvement in the killing, is likely to be a major focus throughout the hearings.

Mr Trump nominated John Abizaid for the ambassador to Saudi Arabia post, celebrating his military career in an announcement the White House released in November last year. Mr Abizaid is a retired four-star US Army general and “the longest-serving commander of United States Central Command,” according to the White House statement.

Meanwhile, the president nominated Matthew Tueller to become the next top diplomat in Baghdad. Mr Tueller currently serves as the US ambassador in Yemen. If confirmed, he will replace Douglas Silliman, who has been the US Ambassador to Iraq since 2016.

Despite neither appointment facing public accusations from the minority of being a political handout, the Senate confirmation hearings could prove contentious after Senators expressed deep frustrations following a closed-door briefing with officials from Mr Trump’s administration on Monday surrounding the death of Khashoggi.

Lawmakers had instructed Mr Trump to order an investigation into Khashoggi’s killing by invoking the Global Magnitsky Act. The request was made in October of last year, which gave the president 120 days to respond. But the White House declined to submit a report by the deadline, angering members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On Monday, Republicans left the closed-door meetings in the Senate appearing not to have learned much else about the administration’s plans to confront Saudi leadership.

“We learned very little,” Mitt Romney told reporters.

Marco Rubio also appeared to criticise the briefing led by Manisha Singh, acting undersecretary for economic growth, energy and the environment at the State Department.

“The Senate will have to decide whether it’s going to impose its own sanctions,” he said.

Khashoggi frequently criticised the Saudi government in his reporting, and lived as a US resident in Virginia. The president has repeatedly refused to implicate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the reported murder, despite the assertion of the Turkish and international intelligence communities.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

The Senate confirmation hearings for Mr Abizaid and Mr Tueller were scheduled to begin on Wednesday at 10am local time.

Additional reporting by AP

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in