“Before we went into pandemic lockdown, I received draft State Department documentation that it is now pursuing this previously undisclosed sale — details of which have not yet been made public — even though the Saudis seemingly want out of their failed and brutal war in Yemen, and despite the fact that a bipartisan majority in Congress rejected previous sales of these weapons,” the New Jersey Democrat wrote.
“The administration has refused to answer our fundamental questions to justify this new sale and articulate how it would be consistent with US values and national security objectives,” he added.
“This is not an isolated problem,” Menendez said, pointing to the fact that the administration’s pursuit of a new weapons sale to Riyadh comes on the heals of President Donald Trump’s firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
Menendez did not disclose how he obtained the documents.
“As a matter of policy, we do not comment upon or confirm proposed defense sales until they have been formally notified to Congress,” a State Department spokesperson said.
CNN reported earlier this month that Linick had nearly completed an investigation into Pompeo’s move last May to bypass Congress and expedite billions of dollars in arms sales to various countries — including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — by declaring an emergency, he need to deter what it called “the malign influence” of Iran throughout the Middle East.
At the time, the move drew bipartisan condemnation, with lawmakers decrying the precedent it sets, questioning the administration’s claims of an emergency and raising the issue of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said Pompeo may have asked for the removal of the watchdog who was looking into his handling of the arms sale. Linick’s Saudi Arabia investigation was first reported by The Washington Post.
“I have learned that there may be another reason for Mr. Linick’s firing. His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia. We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,” Engel, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement to CNN this month.
Additionally, a congressional aide told CNN this month that Pompeo refused to…