Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina attacked Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman over his alleged role in the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a Tuesday appearance on Fox and Friends.
“I’m not going back to Saudi Arabia as long as this guy is in charge,” Graham said of bin Salman. “I’ve been their biggest defender on the floor of the United States Senate. This guy is a wrecking ball. He had [Khashoggi] murdered in a consulate in Turkey and to expect me to ignore it, I feel used and abused. The MBS figure is to me toxic, he can never be a world leader on the world stage.”
“It’s up to the president, but what I would do — Well, I know what I’m going to do. I’m gonna sanction the hell out of Saudi Arabia,” Graham added when asked if Trump should impose sanctions on Saudi Arabia.
Khashoggi, a former Saudi royal insider who recently turned against the regime, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to finalize paperwork required for his upcoming marriage, but never emerged. After initially denying any involvement in the incident, Saudi officials are expected to claim in a forthcoming report that Khashoggi was killed during an unapproved interrogation and abduction gone awry.
Trump appeared to accept the Saudis’ denial Monday, suggesting that Khashoggi may have been assassinated in the embassy by a team of “rogue killers.”
“I just spoke to the King of Saudi Arabia, who denies any knowledge of what took place with regard to, as he said, his Saudi Arabian citizen. He firmly denies that,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “We are going to leave nothing uncovered. With that being said, the king firmly denies any knowledge of it. . . . It sounded to me like this could have been rogue killers. Who knows? We’re going to try getting to the bottom of it. But his was a flat denial.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with bin Salman regarding Khashoggi’s disappearance on Tuesday. He is scheduled to travel to Turkey next to further investigate the incident.