Dec 6, 2018, 6:32 PM ET

Senators say they are intent on punishing Saudi Arabia for role in Khashoggi killing

#

Supporters of bipartisan legislation designed to strongly rebuke Saudi Arabia for the role its Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, allegedly played in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, say they believe they have secured enough votes for final passage.

Interested in Jamal Khashoggi?

Add Jamal Khashoggi as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Jamal Khashoggi news, video, and analysis from ABC News.
Add Interest

While the measure, sponsored by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., makes no mention of Khashoggi, it does call on the administration to end U.S. military support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting a war in Yemen. Because of the nature of the legislation, a war powers resolution which is difficult to amend, those who want to explicitly rebuke MBS - who the CIA has assessed to have ordered the killing of the journalist - say they will now have to wait until early next year.

Supporters of the resolution said Thursday that they are confident they have the votes for passage, even though the House is not expected to take it up this session.

PHOTO: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, not pictured, at the Pentagon in Washington, March 22, 2018.Cliff Owen/AP, FILE
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, meets with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, not pictured, at the Pentagon in Washington, March 22, 2018.

"Look, everybody is aware of the horror of the murder of Khashoggi by the Crown Prince and the Saudi regime, but what we also have to appreciate is that 85,000 children have already starved to death in the last three years in Yemen," Sanders said, adding that, "We need to do everything we can to end hostilities, and I hope we do that next week. The Crown Prince has to be held responsible for the murder of somebody living in the United States and working as a journalist, but first things first. I think we have the votes to proceed (on his resolution) and I hope we can proceed in an orderly way."

The Saudis have denied the crown prince had any involvement.

The vote is expected as early as Wednesday, but a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned that nothing will move forward until there is agreement on the structure of the debate and a narrow window of time in which to conduct that business. Leadership is anxious that the Senate floor not get bogged down in the waning days of the lame-duck session.

Still, a bipartisan coalition of senators wants to do more, even though they concede that there is no time left in this calendar year to do it.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., said that early next week, he also expects the Foreign Relations Committee, of which he is a member, to consider - and possibly modify - his legislation he authored with the panel's top Democrat, Bob Menendez of N.J., and top Trump ally Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that would impose sanctions, prohibits arms sales and refueling support to the kingdom, and immediately penalize anyone preventing humanitarian aid from getting to those in desperate need in war-ravaged Yemen.

PHOTO: A woman holds a child suffering from malnutrition at a treatment center in a hospital in Taez, Yemen, Nov. 21, 2018.Ahmad Al-Basha/AFP/Getty Images
A woman holds a child suffering from malnutrition at a treatment center in a hospital in Taez, Yemen, Nov. 21, 2018.

"There's no time left this year, but we're going to see if we can all rally around Menendez and Young and then grow the support for the measure to the point where you have a veto-proof majority," said Graham, who predicted Administration push-back. "If nothing else, if we could just roll out a product that could get 60 co-sponsors, that would be a good place to start...It's a product that becomes your jumping off point for next year."

Graham said he wanted to make two statements in all of the legislative flurry around Saudi Arabia, "That MBS is complicit (in the Khashoggi killing) and a wrecking ball and that we're going to do something about it - and that means suspending arms sales and support for Yemen."

Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said he is working with the group to modify the legislation in a way that could gain his support. The retiring chairman said he is also working with leadership to craft a more symbolic measure that would condemn the killing of Khashoggi, though the extent to which it would mention the Crown Prince, known by his initials MBS, was not yet clear.

A sizable number of senators on both sides of the aisle have rejected the administration's handling of the Khashoggi killing. The president has said he is not certain that MBS killed Khashoggi, and his secretaries of Defense and State told reporters last week that there is no definitive proof the Saudi crown prince is to blame.

Still, senators on both sides of the aisle, after a closed-door CIA briefing this week by Director Gina Haspel, said they had no doubts.

"I have zero question in my mind that the Crown Prince MBS ordered the killing, monitored the killing, knew exactly what was happening. Planned it in advance. If he was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes. Guilty," Corker said.

"There's not a smoking gun, there's a smoking saw," Graham said, referring to the way in which the reporter was believed to have been murdered.

"You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi," Graham said. "There's a consensus among a lot of us that we want to suspend arms sales and stop support for the war – how do you best do that? We'll see."

On Thursday, Defense Secretary James Mattis appeared to leave the door open on blame in the Khashoggi killing, telling reporters on the way to a Defeat-ISIS coalition meeting in Ottawa, “We are continuing to review. I am quite satisfied we will find more evidence of what happened. I just don't know yet what it's going to be or who's going to be implicated, but we will follow it as far as we can."

ABC News' Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

News - Senators say they are intent on punishing Saudi Arabia for role in Khashoggi killing

RRelated Posts

CComments

  • snake

    The vote is expected as early as Wednesday, but a spokesman for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned that nothing will move forward until there is agreement on the structure of the debate and a narrow window of time in which to conduct that business. Leadership is anxious that the Senate floor not get bogged down in the waning days of the lame-duck session.

    TRANSLATION: Nothing will get done and this is all rhetoric by the GOP to show they don't like the Saudi murder but Trumps cult will not let them do their Constitutional responsibilities.

  • Winston Jones, Model Citizen

    MBS has been very clear. Trump may punish him for Khashoggi by not refueling aircraft in midair. Our Coalition leader is wise and fair. If we intend to keep our half dozen slow-simmering wars, we better to listen to him.

    America has never had so many wars without objectives, goals or even a mission statement. For almost a decade after Vietnam, we had no wars at all. If we are not careful with MBS it could happen again.

    ...and it's not just the wars. Saudi Arabia is an experienced and canny donor to our Republicans and Democrats. Our politicians could lose hundreds of million of dollars for 2020.

  • OtherMrNiceGuy

    Every time I see starving babies in Yemen I want the powers that be dead, destroyed and civilization itself to be knocked back to the stone ages.

    When people are too concerned about staying alive by hunting / gathering, there will be a lot less of this kind of human induced misery.

    Of course there will be starvation through natural means, but humanity will survive.

    I don't think humanity can survive the way we are going.

  • RedSoxPatriotsCelticsBruinsFan

    Kashoogi was stupid walking into a Saudi embassy. lets move on.

  • Phraughy

    I am sure every Saudi citizen knows the consequences of slandering the royal family. It is none of our business.

  • John Rettinger

    The supposed Republicans should admit to their own rank cowardice and xenophobia. They only support for-profit Medical Conglomerates and Foreign Investors.

  • Forward forward

    All of this huffing and puffing is aimed at 2020. Republican senators know that nothing will come of this. Trump would veto anything that harmed his personal benefactors, and not implement anything they overrode. They also know the Senate map in 2020 is a lot more favorable to Democrats than 2018 was. Dems won 24 of the 35 contested 2018 seats. An even split in 2020 and the Senate turns blue.

  • billbo

    for the 100's that are executed each year (by be-heading), for the 10 000's killed by the Saudi military in Yemen, for the many journalist murdered on the orders from the Saudi royals. the world should boycott this despicable backward nation. Saudi Arabia is run by small minded, evil, empty souled men.
    imagine for 1 minute being in a court house in Saudi. The judge and lawyers are all university educated people, so we're not talking about a backwater tribal village. The person being judged has committed the 'hideous' crime of insulting the ''''prophet''' mad Muhammad. YES execute the brute, chop off his head, the judge orders

  • rick315

    It seems to me that before one gets to vote on the nature of the "punishment" {or post inane comments} there should be a vetting process..... a simple question 1 ] Who is Machiavelli?

  • kritikosman

    The trump apparatus is complicit.

  • Timulculin

    If we want to retain any of our credibility which is quickly slipping away as it is, we have to do something.

  • Thao D

    If Saudi Arabia has kill Khashoggi,the world want to sanction Saudi Arabia.Communist(china and Vietnam) has killed a lot of people .The world has blind the eyes

  • BurmeseDude

    If Lindsey Graham says MbS has "holy hell" to pay, that's probably a type of drink that they offer at Trump golf course.

  • mm

    There is really nothing they can do to this man, he has so much money I am sure he isn't worried. We can't even bring people to justice from other countries that steal our identities, and hack our systems, it's impossible. What can our government do? Nothing,, nothing at all. Don't let reporters go into these countries. If they do they take their chances, this guy was against the Prince from the get go, and he goes over there, really?

  • TexWho

    Trump wants to fire old McConnell for failing to bring the GOP senators into compliance with the White House agenda.

  • Forward forward

    Baloney. Our foreign policy operates in order to personally benefit the bank account of this president and his family. Mr Trump would veto anything that Congress would send to his desk, and not implement anything that they overrode. These senators can huff and puff all they want, and Mr Trump will be looking out for Mr Trump first, last and always.