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Secretary of State Pompeo on Jamal Khashoggi: 'America is not covering up for a murder.'

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/11/2019 Deirdre Shesgreen
a man wearing a hat: In this photo taken Dec. 15, 2014, Jamal Khashoggi looks on during a press conference in the Bahraini capital of Manama. © Provided by USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, Inc. In this photo taken Dec. 15, 2014, Jamal Khashoggi looks on during a press conference in the Bahraini capital of Manama.

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday sharply rejected an assertion that the Trump administration is complicit in a cover-up of the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Pompeo's remarks came after Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., accused the administration of turning a "blind eye" to evidence that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman personally ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

"This amounts to the Trump Administration aiding in the cover up of a murder," Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement on Sunday. "America should never descend to this level of moral bankruptcy."

The White House last week refused to comply with a congressional mandate that required the administration to determine whether the crown prince was responsible for Khashoggi's murder. The White House told senators on the Foreign Relations Committee last week that it would not make the determination – infuriating lawmakers who had triggered the requirement. 

Kaine was not the only Democrat to allege a cover-up in Khashoggi's death.

"The Magnitsky Act that requires a president to report back to Congress within 120 days is not a ‘request.’  It is a legal mandate," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and also a member of the Foreign Relations panel. 

"If the president ignores the clear mandate of the Magnitsky Act in a case involving premeditated murder perpetrated by officials of a foreign government, the White House will share the blame for attempting to cover up the crime," Leahy said. 

Asked about those remarks on Monday, Pompeo said they were "dead wrong." 

"Sen. Kaine is just dead wrong," Pompeo told reporters traveling with him in Budapest. "America is not covering up for a murder."

He said the U.S. has taken "more action in response to the tragic murder of Jamal Khashoggi and will continue to take more action, continue our investigation," Pompoe said. "We are working diligently on that. The president has been very clear – couldn't be more clear –as we get additional information, we will continue to hold all of those responsible accountable."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Secretary of State Pompeo on Jamal Khashoggi: 'America is not covering up for a murder.'

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