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Senators demand Trump disclose Saudi ties and 'suspend business relationships'

Chris Riotta

A group of 11 US Senators have demanded Donald Trump disclose his financial ties to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after the reported murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

In a letter to the president, the Democrats said his handling of the Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post contributor’s disappearance “raise significant concerns about financial conflicts of interest”.

“According to public reports, the Trump Organisation for decades has maintained business relationships with the government of Saudi Arabia and members of the Saudi royal family,” the senators wrote. “For instance, in 1995, a Saudi prince led a group of investors that acquired the Plaza Hotel in a deal to pay off Trump Organisation debts on the property for $325m.”

Mr Trump has suggested "rogue killers" may have murdered Mr Khashoggi — a US permanent resident — inside a Saudi consulate, with Turkish intelligence officials claiming to have evidence that the writer was killed. Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the case.

President Trump has flatly rejected the idea of withdrawing from a $110bn arms deal with the nation over the crisis.

“This took place in Turkey, and to the best of our knowledge Khashoggi is not a US citizen, is that right? He’s a permanent resident, okay,” He said to reporters in the Oval Office. “As to whether we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, that would not be acceptable to me.”

On Wednesday, the senators suggested his apparent defence for Saudi Arabia could be the result of conflicts of interest.

“As President, you have refused to withdraw your financial interest in the Trump Organisation,” the senators wrote, demanding Mr Trump provides documents relating to any financial transactions between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Trump Organisation within the last ten years “in order for Congress to better understand any potential conflicts of interest that may exist between you, the Trump Organisation, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”.

The senators requested Mr Trump also answer questions pertaining to his reported business ties with Saudi officials, including, “Will you commit to suspending any ongoing business relationships between any entities you or your family have a financial interest in and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia until the Magnitsky investigation is complete?”

A copy of the letter was forwarded to the president’s adult children in charge of his business, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump.

Mr Khashoggi disappeared in Istanbul 2 October while visiting a Saudi consulate with his wife, who remained outside and has since maintained that he entered and was never seen again.

The Washington Post published his final column for the paper on Wednesday with the headline “Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression”.