Aug 7, 2019

Khashoggi killing: Judge orders federal agencies release records

Journalist Jamal Khashoggi at an event in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018. Photo: Omar Shagaleh/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A judge in New York ordered federal agencies Tuesday to urgently release thousands of pages of documents related to the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey, AP reports.

Why it matters: President Trump and members of his administration including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have publicly stood by the Saudis after Khashoggi's death last year, despite the CIA's assessment that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder.

Details: U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer instructed State and Defense Department representatives to produce some 5,000 pages monthly related to the killing of the Saudi journalist because he said the information about disappearance and death of the United States resident was of "considerable public importance," per NPR.

  • The departments had argued that complying with the order for the documents under the Freedom of Information Act would make it impossible to respond in a timely fashion to other FOIA requests, AP notes.

What they're saying: Amrit Singh, an attorney with the Open Society Justice Initiative, which the filed suit in January seeking the immediate release of all government records related to Khashoggi's murder issued a statement welcoming the judge's order.

"This ruling is a clarion call for accountability at a time when the Trump administration is doing everything possible to hide the truth on who is responsible for Khashoggi['s] murder."

The big picture: The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on 17 people from Saudi Arabia and banned 16 Saudi nationals from entering the U.S. over their roles in the Khashoggi's murder.

Go deeper: Senators convinced Saudi crown prince behind Khashoggi murder

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Rare tensions bubbling between Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and UAE

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed (R). Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The close alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates appears to be under rare strain as the two oil-rich monarchies take increasingly divergent approaches to foreign policy, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: The immediate source of tension is the war in Yemen, where the UAE has scaled down its military presence amid a realization that there is "no military solution" to a devastating conflict that has dragged on for 4 years. "The Saudis felt abandoned," a Western diplomat said.

Go deeperArrowAug 29, 2019

Saudi Aramco to buy 20% stake in India's Reliance Industries

Khalid A. Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia's energy minister and chairman of the board of directors at Saudi Aramco. Photo: Gavriil Grigorov/TASS/Getty Images

Saudi Aramco announced an agreement in principle to buy a 20% stake in the oil-to-chemicals business of India’s Reliance Industries. The deal values the unit at $75 billion, including debt.

Why it matters: It's one of the largest-ever foreign investments in India, per a Reliance statement, and comes on the same day that Saudi Aramco held its first-ever earnings call.

Go deeperArrowAug 12, 2019

Barr plans death penalty fast-track for mass shooters and police killers

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr told the Fraternal Order of Police conference in New Orleans Monday the Trump administration will push for legislation fast-tracking the death penalty in cases of mass shootings or the killing of police officers.

"I will share with you one proposal that we will be advancing after Labor Day.  We will be proposing legislation providing that in cases of mass murder, or in cases of murder of a law enforcement officer, there will be a timetable for judicial proceedings that will allow imposition of any death sentence without undue delay.  Punishment must be swift and certain."
— Attorney General Bill Barr speech to the Fraternal Order of Police

Go deeper: Trump administration to bring back federal death penalty after 16-year lapse

Keep ReadingArrowAug 13, 2019