Smith Statement on Murder of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

“After 17 days, the Saudis have finally come forward admitting Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed. Their claim that ‘quarrels and an altercation’ resulted in his death is a pitiful cover up. If this was just a fist fight gone wrong, why did the Saudis say the next day that Khashoggi had left the consulate? If this was just the result of an altercation, where is the body? And, most importantly, why after 17 days do so many questions about his murder remain unanswered?

“Instead of standing up to this blatant fabrication and assault on the freedom of press, President Trump has once again buckled when United States leadership in the world is needed. His acceptance of the Saudi’s statement as the truth is nothing less than full throated support for brutal authoritarian dictatorship as the best form of government. Trump’s failure to stand up to this atrocity denigrates the words of our Constitution, the freedoms we stand for as a country, and the values of democracy. It sends a message to people around the world that this administration will not defend freedom or the free press, but will blindly follow the lead of authoritarian regimes.

“We have a moral obligation to make clear to the entire world that, while President Trump may buckle in the face of such a horrific act, Congress and the American people will not sit silently.”