A handful of leading GOP senators are going against Donald Trump today condemning Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This comes after a briefing by CIA director Gina Haspel. The AP reports:
Haspel met with a small group of senators, including the chairmen and top Democrats on the key national security committees, after senators in both parties complained that she didn’t attend a briefing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last week.
After the hearing Senator Lindsey Graham said he can’t support arms sales to Saudi Arabia as long as MBS is in charge (see above). He didn’t mince words saying:
“The crown prince was complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi.”
“For a long time I find it very difficult to do business because I think he is crazy, he is dangerous and he has put the relationship at risk.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham says you’d have to be “willfully blind” to think the Saudi Crown Prince wasn’t “intricately involved” in Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 4, 2018
Senator Bob Corker, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also said there is no doubt in his mind about the Crown Prince’s involvement.
Bob Corker: "I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince, MBS, ordered the killing" and "monitored the killing" of Jamal Khashoggi. "If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes: guilty." Via ABC. pic.twitter.com/rGEEkp3Qvg
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 4, 2018
Their reactions directly contradict statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last week that there was no “smoking gun” intelligence directly implicating the crown prince, who is the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. Graham, however, said there was a “smoking saw,” alluding to the bone saw top Saudi officials used to dismember Khashoggi after killing him.
The senators’ comments add to mounting pressure to punish MBS specifically and Saudi Arabia more broadly for the journalist’s death.
There’s no reaction yet on this from the White House.