Senators Make Bipartisan Appeal on Khashoggi

  • Valley News political columnist and news editor John Gregg in West Lebanon, N.H., on September 20, 2016. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Geoff Hansen

Published: 10/11/2018 12:16:02 AM
Modified: 10/11/2018 12:16:13 AM

Just two weeks ago, U.S. Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., were sparring over the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.

But on Wednesday, they teamed up with other senators in a bipartisan call to investigate the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who has not been seen since he entered Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last week.

Officials in Turkey have said Khashoggi, who has written critically of Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, was killed by a Saudi “assassination” squad that was flown into Turkey shortly before Khashoggi was due to enter the consulate.

Saudi Arabia disputes the claim.

Graham and Leahy are chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, and they, along with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the ranking Democrat, sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday calling for an investigation under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which requires a report within 120 days about possible extrajudicial killings or other “gross violations” of human rights against people exercising their freedom of speech.

“We request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions ... with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi. Our expectation is that in making your determination you will consider any relevant information, including with respect to the highest ranking officials in the Government of Saudi Arabia,” the letter stated.

It also was signed by 18 other lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. Corker told the Associated Press that he has been briefed on U.S. intelligence reports and that “the likelihood is he was killed on the day he walked into the consulate.”

“The Saudis have a lot of explaining to do because all indications are that they have been involved at minimum with his disappearance,” Corker told AP. “Everything points to them.”

Forum Ahead

The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire is helping to moderate a candidates forum later this month that should be of interest to voters in northern Sullivan County.

The forum will include state Reps. Lee Oxenham, D-Plainfield, and Brian Sullivan, D-Grantham, and their Republican challengers in the Sullivan 1 district — Virginia Drye, of Plainfield, and Tanya McIntire, of Grantham.

The district covers the towns of Grantham, Plainfield, Cornish and Springfield.

In addition, the candidates forum, starting at 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Plainfield Town Hall on Route 12A, also will include state Rep. Linda Tanner, D-Sunapee, and Plainfield Republican Margaret Drye (Virginia’s mother), the two candidates in the Sullivan 9 floterial district, representing Grantham, Plainfield, Cornish, Springfield, Newport, Croydon, Sunapee and Unity.

The forum is to be moderated by Nancy Marashio, a board member of the League of Women Voters, and is being sponsored jointly by Sullivan County Democrats and the Sullivan County GOP.

Briefly Noted

■Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, the Progressive/Democrat from Burlington, is slated to meet today with members of the Twin Pines Housing Trust in White River Junction to discuss Vermont’s shortage of affordable housing.

■President Trump on Wednesday signed legislation that eliminates so-called “gag rules” on pharmacists that kept them from potentially directing customers to lower-cost options on prescriptions, such as pointing out that in some cases, paying out of pocket could be cheaper than using an insurance plan. The legislation was co-authored by U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“In a time of skyrocketing prescription drug prices, it defies common sense that pharmacists are prohibited from helping customers save money on their medications,” Welch said in a news release. “This new law empowers pharmacists to steer customers to the lowest cost option when filling a prescription.”

■One of the winners last week of a $625,000 “genius” award from the MacArthur Foundation was Becca Heller, a human rights lawyer and the co-founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project. The 36-year-old Heller, a 2005 Dartmouth graduate, was active in a number of social justice causes while in Hanover.

“There are people who live surrounded by hunger and homelessness and have no idea,” she told the Valley News in 2003 as part of a Students Fighting Hunger campaign. “People with enough food should question why they have enough food.”

John P. Gregg can be reached at

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