CNN Senior Political Analyst John Avlon revealed on Thursday that the US may have known in advance of Saudi involvement in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but that any investigation would be complicated by the Trump family’s close ties to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“That is a multi-layered relationship, from trying to broker arms deals to drinks with the crown prince and partying on his yacht and wherever else,” Avlon said.
“But if the Trump administration is effectively forced by congress to confront Saudi Arabia about this act, it will have ripple effects,” he continued, because the US “relies on Saudi to be a check on Iran.” Nonetheless, he said the Magnitsky Act should be invoked, as demanded by a bipartisan group of senators.
“The Magnitsky Act would require the administration to investigate and possibly put on sanctions. You heard the president say ‘we don’t want to mess with our arms deals, that would be bad for American business’,” Avlon added. “The question is does he see bigger principals at stake, because this is not an administration that has gone to the mat for human rights.”
“That is the danger of these close-knit relationships,” he said, bringing up a darker scenario. “Our own Elise Labott reporting out today following up that it’s possible that the U.S. intercepted cables showing that the Saudis wanted to lure Khashoggi back.”
“If that was the case and the duty to warn was not communicated, that is an additional complication and a degree of culpability.”
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Trump slammed for lawless obstruction of Congress: ‘He’s taken a sledgehammer to the Constitution’
On CNN Saturday, former Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D-NY), who voted for the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, discussed the path forward for impeaching President Donald Trump.
"We know moderate Democrats are a bit frustrated with leadership over potentially expanding the scope of their consideration, maybe the Mueller report findings and drawing up these articles of impeachment," said anchor Victor Blackwell. "Do you think it's a mistake not to include anything beyond the Ukraine matter?"
"Yes," said Holtzman. "I think it would be a mistake, although, you know, I'm still at a distance, and the members of the committee really have to, who have been digging into this deeply have the best feel, but my sense is that the, what the president did is so egregious, not just with regard to Ukraine, but what part of what's bad about his activities in Ukraine, is that he's taken a sledgehammer to the Constitution by saying that Congress has no right to get information, and he's cut off his committee, his administration from, and ordered and directed them not to cooperate with the committee in any way."
Giuliani pummeled by ex-press secretary for ‘returning to the scene of the crime’ to create Ukraine chaos
On CNN Saturday, Rudy Giuliani's former mayoral press secretary Ken Frydman harshly criticized his former boss for his ongoing efforts in the Ukraine scheme.
"As you've watched the former mayor over the last several years, have you identified a point at which things shifted for the man who I guess still is for some known at America's Mayor?" asked anchor Victor Blackwell."
"Well, yeah. I think when he went into business with Donald Trump," said Frydman. "You saw a — a severe change in his personality. He had a zealous need to make money, to be relevant. To be part of the political process. And you know right now he's making, I think, ill-advised decisions, like returning to the scene of the crime, Ukraine, to make a propagandist documentary. Almost as if he's playing, he and the president, are playing, 'catch me if you can.' The president will not participate in the impeachment hearings, and Rudy is off in the Ukraine doubling down."
‘I haven’t had a personal cell phone for years’: Trump demands retraction from CNN — in tweet sent from his iPhone
On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that President Donald Trump had spoken to Rudy Giuliani over unsecured phone lines.
If he was using an unsecured phone to talk to Giuliani about Ukraine, Trump would effectively be allowing the Russians to listen in.
CNN confirmed the unsecured phone use, reporting "President Donald Trump has continued to use his personal cell phone to make calls, despite repeated warnings from his staff that the practice could leave him vulnerable to foreign surveillance, multiple officials told CNN."