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US Senate Democrats ask Trump to disclose Saudi financial ties
[WASHINGTON] US senators on Wednesday urged Donald Trump and his company to publicly disclose any financial ties to Saudi Arabia, as speculation grows over possible "conflicts of interest" amid a probe into the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist.
The US president has been on the defensive after Jamal Khashoggi - a US resident and Washington Post contributor who had been critical of Saudi leadership - vanished on October 2 after visiting the Istanbul consulate.
Open letters signed by 11 Democratic senators request the US president and his sons Donald Jr and Eric provide "documents pertaining to financial transfers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Trump Organization over the last 10 years."
After his inauguration to the White House in January 2017, the billionaire real estate magnate-turned-president entrusted his sons with the management of the Trump Organization, but the president retained his shares.
The senators pressed the Republican leader and his sons to release "information about discussions surrounding potential business deals involving Saudi Arabia and the Trump Organization; and information about any potential gifts provided to the president by Saudi nationals."
Trump tweeted Tuesday that "for the record, I have no financial interests in Saudi Arabia (or Russia, for that matter). Any suggestion that I have is just more FAKE NEWS (of which there is plenty)!"
Senators recalled in the letter that at a rally in 2015 Trump, then a candidate, had boasted of his relationship with the Gulf kingdom: "Saudi Arabia. I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend US$40 million. US$50 million."
The senators cite the "emoluments clause" of the US constitution that prevents any public officer holder from accepting "any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State" without the approval of the legislature.
Mr Trump is accused by Washington DC and the state of Maryland of accepting illegal payments from foreign officials through his hotel in the US capital.
The Republican leader had threatened Saudi Arabia with "severe punishment" if it is shown that Khashoggi was killed inside its Istanbul mission.
But he later backpedaled on the possibility of action against the kingdom, which he has repeatedly praised as a customer for the US weapons industry.