WASHINGTON — Six U.S. senators introduced a nonbinding resolution Wednesday that asserts Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was complicit in the murder of columnist Jamal Khashoggi, as senators try to reach agreement on a stronger bipartisan response.
The proposed resolution says Prince Mohammed was in control of security forces at the time of Khashoggi’s murder and that the Senate has “a high level of confidence” that the prince was complicit in the killing. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is the leading sponsor of the measure.
In addition, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said senators will meet Thursday morning to see if they can agree on a proposal for sanctions against Saudi Arabia. Such a move probably would be attached to a resolution that would restrict U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, which Corker said he suspects will pass the Senate.
“At a minimum, just reading the crystal ball, that’s going to have support,” said Corker, R-Tenn. “So is there something that we can put on top of that that can get more votes?”
A group of senators received a classified briefing Tuesday from CIA Director Gina Haspel that they said convinced them that Prince Mohammed played a role in Khashoggi’s killing and dismemberment. Graham described the evidence as “a smoking saw.”
Graham, who is influential on foreign policy issues and has lately been an ally of President Donald Trump, told reporters earlier Wednesday he wants to “suspend arms sales and support for the war in Yemen until several things happen.” He added, “One of them would be holding those accountable for Mr. Khashoggi’s murder.”
The bipartisan resolution seeks to hold the crown prince accountable for “the abhorrent and unjustified murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi” as well as the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, preventing a resolution to the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar and the jailing and torturing of dissidents inside Saudi Arabia.
Also sponsoring the resolution are GOP Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Todd Young of Indiana, and Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Chris Coons of Delaware.
Graham has said the resolution would be followed by an effort to impose sanctions. He said Wednesday he can’t imagine the U.S. having a normal relationship with a Saudi Arabia run by the crown prince.
“It’s really dangerous for America to look away here,” Graham said. “I think you’re naive to believe you can excuse this and it will work out.”
Corker has said he expects votes on amendments to the Yemen war powers resolution on Monday.