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Trump ally caught in confusion as White House clashes with GOP over Saudi Arabia



Risch, a solid ally of President Donald Trump, hopes that the briefing will blame the Trump's assertion of the assassination of the killings – especially the Republicans who are indignant for his ruling to handle direct responsibility of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

But there seems to be an opposite effect.

The end of March 5 is, through all accounts, a disaster. Treasury officials sent to update lawmakers did not answer even the simplest question about the White House decision to ignore Congress's requests for a report on the role played by Saudi leaders at the death of Khashoggi, two sources said CNN.

Afterward, Risch was caught in a guard by a visible failed group of Republican lawmakers, who privately confronted him to complain that the briefing gave no new information to Khashoggi's murder, according to many sources. Some have seen it be an intentional slap on the face of the administration.

  Bipartisan group of senators fuming on administration of Khashoggi aftermath

Instead of minimizing their failure, the Republic's rage in the situation, because many GOP Senators appeared to be newly motivated to push back.

"I think there's a growing momentum here in Congress not to let the MBS get on the hook," South Carolina Republican Sen says. Lindsey Graham then.

The incident is a great reminder of the tension between the White House and the Republic's warning in support of the administration for Saudi Arabia. It also emphasizes the poor position. Rische found himself in: He was visiting the strongest overseas relations committee on the Hill, however affects his party in one of the most important issues in the foreign policy of the moment.

Caught in the middle

Risch was almost standing alone in defense of the administration's response to the killing of Khashoggi. As divide between the Republican Hill and the administration was getting worse over the past few months, Risch's isolation was only increased, especially after the White House failed to respond to the last day of January requiring a determination as to whether MBS is responsible for killing and should be permitted under the Magnitsky Act.

An administrative administration officer argued at the time the President "maintained his judgment refused to act on the requirements of the legislative committee as appropriate."

  The White House refuses to meet with Congress & # 39; deadline to kill Khashoggi

Risch is the only Senate legislator who defended the White House response,

that failed a large portion of committee members who thought the administration violated the law in not responding its.

The White House's rise to the dismissal of Congressional oversight makes it difficult for Risch to stand by the President. And the months of inaction prompted by the Senate of the Republic to discard his committee to push a vote on their legislative measures.

The latest example came on Wednesday night, when the Senate voted to end US military aid in Saudi Arabia in its Yemen war. The Yemen bill has been given special privileges, which means it has expedited treatment and avoided the committee's process and Senate barriers at all to receive a floor vote in the Senate.

Risch voted against the Yemen resolution, while seven Republicans voted for it, including members of the Foreign Relations Committee Rand Paul of Kentucky and Todd Young of Indiana. CNN Sources said they did not expect Risch to personally lobby the President one way or another in the bill that it should forward to the House.

  The slow-moving disaster in Trump & # 39; s Khashoggi

if Risch supports any other existing legislative efforts that are already under- targeting the Saudi regime. These include a bill sponsored by Graham and the leading Democrats committee, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, which aims to ban certain arms sales in Saudi Arabia and ultimately leads to penalties directly on the MBS itself.

Despite his close relationship with the President and consistent communication with top administration officials, Risch said he did not insist on defending Trump.

"I did not really feel pressure on anyone," he told CNN. "It's not a good way to do business anymore, you have to come and deal with good faith. If you do that, you do not have to worry about pressure."

The anti-Corker

While the sources near Risch believed he was patiently traveling in a complex situation, critics said he was struggling to balance his natural a tendency to protect the President in his oversight responsibilities as chairman This perspective, in part, was strengthened by a true comparison between Risch and his predecessor, former Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, is among the strong critics of the Trump 's foreign policy, and his oversight, at some point called the White House a "adult daycare center."

Corker also works on measures that the White House expressly opposes, from measures to alter existing consent for military use to reduce the Trump administration's authority on tariffs.

  In trials for the Trump, the Senate prepared to formally waive the crown of the Saudi prince

posture, from interviews on press releases of Cabinet secretaries at the hearings, often left by Corker at the receiving end of a Trump Twitter tweet – something that Risch, who preferring to share his opinions behind closed doors and directly to the administration, just as hardly repeat.

For Risch, this is more than a fine balancing act, said one senator of the CNN Republic. "He tries to walk a tight rope a little – be allies in the administration rules, but also listen to members of a powerful committee. It is not easy and clear that it takes time for him to know the right balance. "

Risch has a very long public career to call for experience as he looks for that balance, from his time to the state senate of Idaho and as state lieutenant governor in his second term state of the Senate United States.

But if the consensus was what he was looking for, he had little help from the administration to reach that goal.

Senators on both sides have complained about the lack of compliance with certain laws, lack of information about plans or strategies and a series of talks that, in the words of a Senator of the Republic " there is only fulfillment of more bulls ***. "

Trump does not explode

There is no indication that the administration feels any pressure to support additional targeting targets of the Saudis despite the two party support for various forms of legislative action. Yemen's resolution is likely to be passed if it passes to Home. The administration's officials said the Executive Branch would continue to protect the MBS in the hope that the controversy had passed, according to the familiar background of the internal White House who were thinking about the issue.

That direction, said source, is directly from the President, which remains unstable in his view that maintaining US-Saudi relations should be prioritized. That view is also supported by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security manager John Bolton, and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

  As Cohen rivets Washington, White House announces Kushner met with Saudi crown prince
The administration also appears to control the flow of information about its investigation into the death of Khashoggi. Intelligence officials have been denied to offer any indication of whether their assessment has evolved since the CIA director Gina Haspel told lawmakers about the December case, which often refers to the White House.

While the administration insists the intelligence offers no smoking gun tying the Crown Prince in the framework, legislators arose from the last session of last year's door with Haspel the more convinced MBS was responsible.

In the future of Yemen's vote of Wednesday, Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat and co-sponsor of the resolution, almost appeared in amazement at how little changed from December. "They just do not move," Murphy said. "The administration has taken closer to the Saudis, not far from the end of last year."

For chairman Risch, who is trying to bridge the gap between the administration and a Republican Party looking for ways to punish Saudi Arabia, which does not make his job easier.

Phil Mattingly and Jeremy of CNN Contributed the Herb to this report.


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