Senators have voted to recommend that the U.S. stop supporting the Saudi-led war in Yemen, directly challenging both Saudi Arabia and President Donald Trump in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s slaying.
The bipartisan vote Thursday comes two months after the Saudi journalist’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and after Trump has equivocated over who is to blame. U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must have at least known of the plot, but Trump has repeatedly praised the kingdom.
It’s unlikely the House will consider the resolution.
Earlier Thursday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker, R-Tenn., introduced a resolution saying Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “is responsible for the murder” of Khashoggi.
The resolution also condemns the kingdom’s conduct in Yemen, highlighting Saudi Arabia’s “concerning behavior.”
“There is no military solution to the conflict,” the resolution asserts.
Corker, who has been a critic of Trump, is retiring from the Senate at the end of his current term. But the document’s nine other GOP co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are pushing a position that directly challenges the view from Trump’s senior advisors that there was no “smoking gun” that incriminates bin Salman.
That view, held by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was derided by some Republican lawmakers.
“There’s not a smoking gun, there’s a smoking saw,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said after a closed-door briefing on Khashoggi’s death led by CIA Director Gina Haspel last week.
Corker expects the resolution to be considered by the full Senate.
After initially claiming that Khashoggi left the consulate freely, a Saudi spokesman eventually admitted Khashoggi’s death, calling it an “unfortunate accident.” The kingdom has maintained that the crown prince was not involved.
Corker’s resolution calls out the Saudi government for “misleading statements … regarding the murder of” Khashoggi, which have “undermined trust and confidence in the longstanding friendship” between the U.S. and the kingdom.
It also lays Khashoggi’s death squarely at the feet of the crown prince. The resolution, if passed, would have the Senate affirm that it “believes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.”
Trump has defended the crown prince against the calls for condemnation from U.S. politicians. In an exclamation-point-filled statement last month, the president said his “America First” policy required siding with Saudi Arabia.
As to whether the crown prince knew about the journalist’s killing, Trump contradicted the CIA’s reported conclusions, saying: “Maybe he did and he didn’t!”
contributed to this report.