Rep. Adam Schiff condemned President Biden’s decision to declare Mohammed bin Salman known as MBS, immune from lawsuits. “I think this is a tragic decision. I don’t think it was a necessary decision,” he said on ABC’s “This Week” over the weekend.
“This is a guy who was involved in the murder and dismemberment of a person residing in America a request and you know, we have to put our value on life, not oil,” noted Schiff.
Jamal Khashoggi was a US-based Saudi Journalist and critic of Saudi Arabia’s government.
Saudi Arabia officials declared that Khashoggi was indeed murdered inside Instanbul’s consulate in what officials called a “rogue operation.” The government committed to punishing “those responsible” for the attack on the Saudi journalist.
In 2018, the CIA concluded that the MBS Crown Prince had personally ordered the death of Khashoggi.
“What happened to Khashoggi was outrageous … I just made it clear if anything occurs like that again they will get that response and much more,” Biden said after meeting with the MBS Crown Prince earlier this year.
“I raised (the killing of Khashoggi) at the top of the meeting,” Biden stated. “I said, very straightforwardly: For an American president to be silent on the issue of human rights is inconsistent with who we are and who I am.”
President Biden’s administration declared on Thursday that he should be immune to the lawsuits due to the Prince’s official standing.
On Thursday, Senators. Tom Cotton and Mark Warner defended the Biden administration’s assertion that the Saudi crown prince should not be punished with any lawsuits.
In conversation with host Shannon Bream on “Fox News Sunday,” Cotton stated, “What the administration decided this week in granting sovereign immunity to Mohammed bin Salman is in keeping with the practice of, custom of lawsuits involving foreign heads of state. It would have been a break of those customs to not grant that kind of immunity.”
While condemning Saudi Arabia for its human rights abuse, Senator Warner still expressed his support for President Biden’s decision.: “The reason why there was a grant of sovereign immunity, even to leaders we don’t like, is as much to protect American leaders and American diplomats when they are posted from being subject to Saudi Arabian law or Russian law or South African law,,” he said. “We need to be enough of a realist to realize that Saudi Arabia has been a bulwark against Iran.”
In Friday’s press briefing, Karine Jean-Pierre noted that “the United States consistently has afforded head of state immunity to heads of governments, such as prime ministers, consistent with customary institutional law.”
She cited other head-of-state immunity cases from the past four American administrations, such as “President Aristide of Haiti in 1993. President of Zimbabwe at the time in 2001. Prime Minister Modi, India, as we all know, in 2014.”
In a state department briefing, Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel stated that “this immunity flows directly from the crown prince’s role as prime minister, which is the head of government, which he was appointed to earlier this year.” Patel added that “this designation only applies to the crown prince in his role of head of government. It does not speak to the underlying merits of the case nor does it impact the other defendants in the case either.”
When questioned about the legitimacy of his statement on Salman’s immunity given the Prince’s head of state status, Patel answered, “It is a principle of common law, and it’s a principle of international law. And we’ve applied these principles regularly.”
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