House Democrats plan to further examine the intelligence community’s assessment of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and the overall relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia, the presumptive next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said in a new interview with The Washington Post.
California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff told the Post in an interview published Friday that the Democrats’ goal will be to look at the intelligence assessments in order to compare it to statements President Donald Trump has made on the matter.
“Then it will be quite clear whether the President is relying on the intelligence community and our best source of information or whether the President is representing something very different,” Schiff told the Post.
Schiff told the Post that if Congress is briefed on Saudi Arabia and what they learn goes against what Trump has said publicly, then Congress will be “armed with good enough information that it can take action to make sure that our national interests are protected and that we base our policy on the facts.”
Schiff did not explain what steps Democrats would take if they believed Trump acted inappropriately.
Trump, in an unusual statement laden with exclamation points, signaled that the US will not take strong action against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – despite the CIA’s belief that he personally ordered the killing of Khashoggi.
In the statement Trump released on Tuesday, Trump said the US does not condone the killing of Khashoggi but highlighted Saudi Arabia’s agreement to invest in the United States, particularly through arms purchases, and Saudi Arabia’s role in the United States’ interests in the Middle East.
Schiff told the paper that the committee will do a “deep dive” on Saudi Arabia to survey issues, including the ongoing war in Yemen, and how “the kingdom is treating its critics or members of the press generally.”
A CIA official told CNN Friday that there is still is no smoking gun implicating the crown prince directly and the intelligence assessment is ongoing. As part of that process, the CIA is analyzing relevant intelligence within the context of what is already known about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the official said.
Intelligence officials have said the CIA presented the President with a confidence-based assessment given the facts of the situation.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.